Thursday, July 12, 2007

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Attorney General Abbott Reaches $21 Million Settlement Benefitting Victims of Predatory Mortgage Lending

EL PASO – Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott today announced that Texas homeowners who were harmed by Ameriquest Mortgage Co.’s deceptive lending practices will share in almost $21 million in restitution. Eligible Texans will receive claim forms from the lending giant in the coming days.

The settlement, a part of Attorney General Abbott’s ongoing efforts to combat misleading lending practices, resolves allegations that Ameriquest and its affiliates, Town and Country Credit Corp. and AMC Mortgage Services, did not adequately disclose certain terms to homeowners, including whether loans carried fixed or adjustable rates. The company also charged excessive origination fees and prepayment penalties, refinanced borrowers into improper loans and inflated appraisals that qualified borrowers for loans. About 21,000 Texans who signed contracts with Ameriquest Mortgage Co. between Jan. 1, 1999, and Dec. 31, 2005, may be eligible to receive restitution payments. The amount of each claimant’s payment will be based on the degree of financial harm they suffered because of the company’s financing schemes.

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Agreement between states and Ameriquest

“Texans will not tolerate predatory lending schemes that lock would-be homeowners into a seemingly endless cycle of debt,” said Attorney General Abbott. “We are pleased that Texas homeowners who were harmed by this lending giant will share nearly $21 million in refunds. The Office of the Attorney General will continue protecting homeowners from deceptive lenders.”

This week, eligible consumers will begin receiving letters and claim forms explaining the restitution process. To participate, consumers must complete and mail these forms to the settlement administrator no later than Sept. 10, 2007. The settlement administrator’s toll-free number is (800) 420-5875 and detailed information can be obtained online at www.ameriquestmultistatesettlement.com.

Consumers who opt for restitution relinquish their right to file lawsuits against Ameriquest. Therefore, the Office of the Attorney General encourages consumers to consult with a private attorney before deciding to participate.