Attorney general sues, says scams targeted Polish community

Illinois Attorney General Lisa MadiganIllinois' attorney general is suing a company for allegedly operating debt relief and mortgage rescue scams that targeted the Chicago area's sizable Polish community - allegedly bilking more than a dozen customers out of $300,000.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan said the Omega Business Center company solicited customers through print and radio ads in the Polish community. They promised to help reduce mortgages and lower credit card debt. But they allegedly charged upfront fees for the services -- services that never happened.

"Homeowners should be wary of any debt-assistance business that requires upfront fess for their services," Madigan said in a statement. "Mortgage rescue scam artists should be aware that my office aggressively investigates these allegations and will pursue those who prey on unsuspecting homeowners.

A variety of other businesses that worked under Omega Business Center were also named in the lawsuit. They all claimed to offer mortgage and credit card debt reduction assistance, including Omega Tax and Accounting, Wall Street Inc. and Halbulst Asset Management LLC.

Madigan is asking to bar the defendants from working in mortgage and foreclosure rescue as well as to collect $50,000 per civil penalty and $50,000 for each violation if they are found guilty of intent to defraud. She's also asking for an extra $10,000 per violation when a victim was older than 65.

As people continue to struggle with mounting debt due unemployment, falling home prices and higher cost of living, mortgage scams continue to explode.

The FTC has announced more than 14 lawsuits against mortgage foreclosure rescue and loan modification scams in the past two years, usually charging customers money for promises that they would get home loans modified.

In one case, against the Debt Advocacy Center, customers were asked to pay $1,500 upfront. That money then disappeared, according to the lawsuits.

Here are some tips to avoid become a victim of a foreclosure rescue scam.
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