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Commerce Department teams up to crack down on unlicensed loan modification companies

June 15, 2012


For Immediate Release 

Commissioner Rothman issues statement of charges against C.C. Brown Law on behalf of consumers

SAINT PAUL, MN – In a coordinated effort with federal law enforcement agencies that executed search warrants at three locations associated with C.C. Brown Law Office in Utah Tuesday, Commissioner Mike Rothman issued a statement of charges against Charles Craig Brown, Chad Gettel, and C.C. Brown Law, LLC for allegedly engaging in unlicensed mortgage modification activities in Minnesota.  

The Department of Commerce worked with several agencies, including the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program and the Minnesota Office of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to coordinate the investigation against the company, which had allegedly defrauded consumers seeking loan modifications throughout the country.  According to the Department’s investigation, C.C. Brown Law allegedly used a national marketing campaign containing misleading information that appeared to be sent by the government.  They collected up-front fees for service in 94 reported instances in Minnesota and failed to return advance fees after not completing the loan modifications.

“As scam artists continue to adapt their tactics in an effort to steal from financially stressed consumers, the Commerce Department will use all methods necessary to protect Minnesotans from unscrupulous businesses,” said Commissioner Rothman.  “This is an example of a successful partnership with local and federal agencies that allowed us to catch up with fraudsters and enforce the law across jurisdictions.”

The statement of charges issued by the Commissioner includes allegations that C.C. Brown Law, Charles Craig Brown, and Chad Gettel:

  1. Operated in Minnesota without an appropriate license.
  2. Collected advance fees from Minnesotan consumers totaling more than $134,000 to work with the customers’ lenders to modify the terms of their mortgages.
  3. Failed to deposit the up-front fees in a trust account as required by Minnesota Statutes. 
  4. Accessed customers’ bank accounts using E-checks, which resulted in unauthorized withdrawals.  
  5. Neglected to return advance fees upon request, after failing to complete the loan modification.
  6. Misled consumers by using advertisements that appeared to be sent by the government, using perforated, government-style checks, prequalification numbers beginning with the letters “U.S.” and “Housing & Economic Recovery Program (PL 110-289)” on the outside of the envelope.
“Many Minnesotans continue to seek opportunities to modify their loan payments to stay in their homes and afloat financially,” said Rothman.  “These allegations represent the blatant exploitation of consumers in distress and out-right fraudulent activity that will not be tolerated.”    

Customers working with C.C. Brown Law on mortgage modifications, who would like information, can contact the FBI at 1-877-236-8947 (press option 2).  A recorded message will direct individuals to submit contact information and copies of documents to the FBI by mailing them to the FBI Salt Lake City Division, attention CC Brown Investigation, 227 East 200 South, Suite 1200, Salt Lake City, UT 84111.

A prehearing conference for the statement of charges has been scheduled for Thursday, August 23, 2012 at 1:30 p.m. before Administrative Law Judge Manuel J. Cervantes at the Office of Administrative Hearings in Saint Paul.  

TIPS FOR MINNESOTA CONSUMERS

About the Minnesota Department of Commerce 

The Minnesota Department of Commerce licenses and regulates mortgage originators, brokers, servicers and multiple other individuals and companies in the real estate industry. First, contact your mortgage company to try and work out a loan modification.

  • Contact the Minnesota Homeownership Center for free loan modification assistance
  • Beware of anyone charging up-front fees; NEVER pay advance fees to loan modification companies
  • Contact the Minnesota Department of Commerce Consumer Protection Line to check on the license status or enforcement history of the loan modification organization you are working with
  • If you feel you might be the victim of a loan modification scam, contact the Minnesota Department of 
  • Commerce Consumer Protection Line to file a complaint and work with an investigator 

The Minnesota Department of Commerce Consumer Protection Line can be reached by email at consumer.protection@state.mn.us or by phone at (651) 296-2488 or (800) 657-3602 in Greater Minnesota.