(Source: Debra Gruszecki The Press-Enterprise, Riverside, Calif. (MCT) — The operators of a boiler-room telemarketing company, US Homeowners Assistance, were ordered Tuesday, July 24, to pay more than $4 million in penalties for false mortgage modification loan promises made to more than 1,000 customers.
California Attorney General Kamala Harris said the Orange County Superior Court-ordered judgment includes $2 million in restitution for the money customers paid for services they did not receive to Statewide Financial Group of Orange County.
Statewide Financial did business under the names US Homeowners Assistance, US Homeowners Preservation Center and Webeatallrates.com, Harris said.
Orange County Superior Court ordered that every US Homeowners Assistance loan modification customer collect a full refund upon request.
“These defendants took advantage of vulnerable people in extremely difficult circumstances, including many who faced imminent loss of their homes,” Harris said in a statement. “The significant financial penalties imposed by the court let scammers know that severe consequences will flow to those who defraud California consumers.”
Names of the 1,200 clients who were bilked were not immediately known. Nicholas Pacilio, a spokesman for the attorney general’s office, said the defendants have 60 days to produce a client list. The process for restitution will be announced at a later time, he said.
The prosecution of this action took nearly three years.
On July 14, 2009, the attorney general’s office shut down the Orange County-based business that had been in operation since January 2008.
In March 2012, business owners Zulmai Nazarzai, Hakimullah Sarpas and Fasela Sheren, who went by the name of Sharon Fasela, were found liable for violating California’s unfair competition and false advertising laws.
The defendants, who were permanently banned from repeating similar conduct, were ordered to pay $2 million in civil penalties. It was not clear how the money would be recovered or how much money would be available to pay refunds or penalties.
Nazarzai has been incarcerated in the Orange County jail on a contempt of court charge since December 2010 for refusing to heed a court order to turn over $360,000 unlawfully taken by defendants.
©2012 The Press-Enterprise (Riverside, Calif.)
Visit The Press-Enterprise (Riverside, Calif.) at www.PE.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services