Low bar: How lawyers profit off desperate homeowners



By Fred Schulte, The Center for Public Integrity

In 2012, after a heart attack left him too ill to work and unable to make his mortgage payments on time, John M. Green turned to the Litvin Law Firm for help.

Green said he paid the firm some $8,000 over the next two years to negotiate better terms with the lender on his house in Baker, Louisiana. But he lost the home anyway, he says, because the Brooklyn, New York, law firm did little beyond taking his money.

“My experience was horrible,” said Green, 72, who is back at work part-time as a school teacher. “They didn’t follow through with anything they said they were going to do.”

It’s not just former Litvin clients like Green who are aggrieved. The attorneys general of New York and Maryland have accused the firm of preying on distressed homeowners by failing to deliver the legal firepower it promised.

People deeply in arrears on their mortgages wasted money they could ill afford to lose, while dozens lost their homes, Maryland officials charged. The case, filed in 2014, targets the firm and its founder, attorney Gennady Litvin. Both state proceedings are pending.

Litvin would not comment.

Since 2010, tens of thousands of strapped homeowners have alleged they were cheated by lawyers or marketers boasting ties to law firms, whom they trusted to renegotiate mortgage loans or stave off foreclosure actions, a Center for Public Integrity investigation found.

Since 2010, a coalition of consumer and law enforcement groups organized by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law has tracked companies and law firms that promise to “rescue” homeowners from foreclosure and mostly fail to deliver. The group has collected more than 46,000 written complaints from homeowners whose losses totaled more than $100 million — nearly two-thirds linked to apparent misconduct by lawyers or their associates.

6 Responses

  1. If you want to help shine the light on shady attorneys you MUST file a formal complaint with your local Bar. Even then there is not guarantee that the outcome will suit you. There is however a guarantee that nothing will happen to the shady attorneys if you don’t take the necessary first step of filing a formal complaint!

    Shine the light and help others from walking in the darkness!!

  2. If you live in Rhode Island, please write to state senators requesting changes to current laws to defeat the banks. If you want a sample letter I would post one here. Let me know.

  3. Our attorney took$3000 up front and was supposed to fight the foreclosure. Instead he decided it would be better to let them foreclose and sue them for wrongful foreclosure. Of course he didn’t do that either. All he did was dance around the courts with an unlawful detainer and then after filing an appeal, dropped the case and never bothered to do real work by filing a brief on the appeal. He literally did nothing to earn the money we paid him and yet repeatedly told us how great an attorney he was by “buying us time” ! I hired him to fight the fraudulent foreclosure of our home, I told him we had children with autism who could not handle having to move and he didn’t give a damn – he took our money and did nothing, leaving us to end up homeless. I will never trust another attorney again. Or the courts. There is no justice left in this country.

  4. Reblogged this on Matthews' Blog.

  5. Lawyers work for the banks, they are the ones who draft the contracts, they are ones who litigate and commit fraud….knowingly! And then there are the ones who are incapable of handling your case and lie, getting retainers for the work they cannot even comprehend. Far too many of them suck! Just saying, three of them got me. One wanted $500.00 after a $2,500 retainer, to make a phone call. After I got rid of him he sent me another bill. Luckily, I had receipts for the “zero” he did for the money and they stopped harassing me. And it doesn’t end there…

  6. The Bar needs to go after the lawyers who FILE the foreclosure cases with broken chains of title, the foreclosure filed BEFORE the assignments, knowledge of empty Trusts, etc. Why is the Bar in each state allowing the fraud to be run rampant through the courts in the first place by allowing the lawyers for the banks and lenders to pursue foreclosure in the first place, when it is now known there is likely fraud in nearly every foreclosure case? The lawyers know that the homeowner(s) in each single filed case trying to defend himself/herself/themselves in the case is like a baby going up against an 800-pound gorilla. But the lawyers will not help the homeowner defend his/her/their foreclosure case in any meaningful way, unless the client homeowners are wealthy and the lawyers can see a BIG payday up front. Never mind that the banks have deep pockets that could be tapped by a won foreclosure defense case – the lawyers would have to actually EARN their payday if the lawyers rely on winning the cases to get paid. That is too much work for them. So the poor homeowner is suffering mightily. The Attorneys General of the states know about the fraud that was committed by the banks and lenders, yet have done nothing to directly help the homeowners save their homes. It is so disgusting and disheartening. No wonder people have bad attitudes these days and are starting to absolutely hate and distrust other people.

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