$4.5 Million Settlement: Florida-Based Mortgage and Foreclosure Scam Targeted Hispanics

The United States Department of Justice (DoJ) has settled with multiple defendants accused of operating a scam across Florida that preyed on hundreds of Spanish-speaking homeowners. On June 10, 2022, the DoJ announced the settlement with Advocate Law Groups of Florida, Jon Lindeman Jr., Ephigenia Lindeman, Summit Development Solutions, and Haralampos “Bob” Kourouklis. Between them, the defendants had offices in the Florida cities of Miami Lakes, Fort Lauderdale, Naples, Palm Beach, Orlando, Tampa, Bonita Springs, and Jacksonville. The scam involved fraudulent offers to help people with mortgage loan modifications and foreclosures.

The DoJ alleged that “from 2009 through at least 2015,” the defendants targeted Hispanic homeowners “for a scheme involving unfair and predatory loan modifications and foreclosure rescue services.” Relying heavily on Spanish-language advertising, the defendants said that they would lower their victims’ home payments, charging thousands of dollars in upfront fees and hundreds of dollars in monthly fees, all “non-refundable,” all while failing to provide the services that were promised. The defendants were also said to have intimidated their victims into making no contact with their lenders, threatening that they would lose their homes.

The complaint notes that, in addition to trying to defraud their victims in person, the defendants, “marketed their mortgage modification scheme on fourteen radio stations…and nine television stations… These stations advertised in the Tampa, Orlando, Naples, Fort Myers, and Miami areas.” In addition to primarily Spanish-language advertising, the defendants also allegedly conducted meetings in Spanish, only to turn around and require their clients to sign almost exclusively English-language paperwork.

Three families stepped forward to complain, and the case was argued in court by lawyers for the DoJ Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida. The defendants now face a consent judgment against them to pay $4,595,000 to compensate their victims.

Official documentation on the DoJ website is here: https://www.justice.gov/crt/case/united-states-v-advocate-law-groups-florida-pa-md-fla