Attorney General Corbett announces $2.3 million consumer protection judgment in Pittsburgh area real estate and mortgage fraud case
HARRISBURG, PA – September 11, 2008 – (RealEstateRama) — Attorney General Tom Corbett today announced a court-ordered judgment totaling more than $2.3 million in a consumer protection lawsuit that was filed against a Pittsburgh area man accused of orchestrating a multi-million dollar mortgage and real estate scheme in Allegheny, Beaver and Butler counties.
Corbett said the lawsuit was filed in Allegheny County in November 2007 against James C. Platts and his companies, Easy Realty Solutions Inc., Easy Realty Solutions LLC (doing business as Fieldstone Real Estate Co.) and Guaranteed Results Company.
Corbett said the court order, issued on September 8, 2008 by Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas Judge Christine A. Ward, requires Platts to pay a total of $2,250,279 in consumer restitution, along with $114,000 in civil penalties and $8,526 in court costs. Additionally, Corbett said the order calls for the satisfaction of all mortgages made or received by Platts and his companies. These mortgage loans, which the Attorney General’s Office had argued were illegal, had an original value of $1.2 million.
“Trusting consumers came to Mr. Platts and Easy Realty searching for homes and a piece of the ‘American Dream’,” Corbett said. “Instead, those dreams turned into nightmares of inflated prices, undisclosed fees and bogus legal filings – but this week’s court ruling finally brings those nightmares to an end.”
Corbett said that agents and attorneys from the Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection will work with officials in Allegheny, Beaver and Butler counties in order to make arrangements to satisfy the mortgages held by Platts.
“The removal of approximately $1 million in illegal mortgages from the public record will free consumers from the weight of debts that they never should have been burdened with,” Corbett said.
Additionally, Corbett said that Judge Ward’s order requires Platts to pay more than $2.25 million in consumer restitution within the next 60 days. The restitution is intended to compensate victims for inflated prices, undisclosed fees and bogus legal filings imposed by Platts.
Corbett explained that the 2007 consumer protection lawsuit accused Platts and his companies of receiving more than $2 million in payments from consumers related to real estate sales and extending or receiving at least 111 second mortgages, valued at over $1.2 million, despite the lack of a real estate license or secondary mortgage loan license. Additionally, Platts and his companies were accused of wrongfully filing more than 150 legal notices against property sellers in an effort to extract additional payments when their homes were sold.
Corbett thanked Deputy Attorney General Amy L. Schulman and the entire staff of the Pittsburgh Regional Office of the Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection for their hard work and dedication in investigating and prosecuting this case.
Corbett noted that Platts is currently incarcerated in West Virginia as the result of a separate criminal case brought by federal prosecutors.