A legal services provider in Florida and two of its officers have been sued by the United States for alleged violations of the Fair Housing Act by intentionally discriminating against Hispanic homeowners, according to the US Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida.
The lawsuit against Advocate Law Groups of Florida PA, attorney Jon Lindeman Jr. and his wife Ephigenia Lindeman claims they targeted Hispanic homeowners with a predatory mortgage loan modification and foreclosure rescue services scheme.
Based in Miami Lakes, the firm also has offices in Orlando and Tampa, among other places.
The complaint alleges that from 2009 through at least 2015, the defendants used Spanish-language advertising to purposefully target Hispanic homeowners. The ads falsely promised to cut homeowners’ mortgage payments in half.
The defendants promised clients lower payments in a short timeframe in exchange for thousands of dollars of upfront fees and additional, continuing monthly fees. They also instructed clients to stop making monthly mortgage payments and to stop communicating with their lenders. Despite charging high fees, the defendants did little or nothing to actually obtain loan modifications.
The suit stems from three complaints filed with the Department of Housing and Urban Development by the defendants’ former clients. After conducting an investigation, HUD issued a charge of discrimination and referred the case to the Justice Department.