BALTIMORE (July 12, 2007) - Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler announced today that 12,340 Maryland consumers are eligible for $7,760,281 in restitution from Ameriquest Mortgage Company and its related companies as part of a $325 million national settlement of a predatory lending lawsuit against the company.
The settlement resolves allegations that Ameriquest and its affiliates misrepresented and did not adequately disclose the terms of home loans, such as whether a loan carried a fixed or an adjustable rate; charged excessive loan origination fees and prepayment penalties; refinanced borrowers into improper or inappropriate loans; and improperly inflated appraisals used to qualify borrowers for loans.
Attorney General Gansler said his office and Maryland Commissioner of Financial Regulation, Charles W. Turnbaugh, sent letters and claim forms to eligible Maryland consumers this week. To participate in the settlement and receive restitution, consumers must mail completed and signed forms to the settlement administrator by September 10, 2007. The forms mailed to each consumer will indicate the minimum payment the consumer can expect to receive. However, the exact amount could be larger, depending on how many eligible consumers decide to participate in the settlement.
We believe Ameriquests predatory lending practices seriously harmed consumers and made it more difficult for them to pay for their homes, said Attorney General Gansler. This restitution will help compensate the victims of these harmful practices in Maryland.
Attorney General Gansler is encouraging consumers to study the claim forms and information, and to reply as soon as possible. Consumers who opt to receive the restitution payments give up their right to file lawsuits against Ameriquest related to the loans covered by the settlement. Therefore, consumers are encouraged to consult with a private attorney or, if they qualify, a legal services attorney before deciding whether to participate in the settlement. Consumers who participate in the settlement do not give up any claim they may otherwise raise if their home goes into foreclosure.
A pamphlet of Frequently Asked Questions was mailed with the claim form and provides additional information about the restitution process for eligible consumers. Consumers also can obtain detailed information about the settlement and their eligibility for restitution by going to the Settlement Administrators web site: http://www.ameriquestmultistatesettlement.com. Consumers also may contact the Settlement Administrator at 800-420-5875. (Hearing-impaired persons may call 866-494-8274).
Under the settlement, over 481,000 borrowers who were customers of Ameriquest Mortgage Company, Town and Country Credit Corporation, and AMC Mortgage Services, Inc. (formerly known as Bedford Home Loans) between January 1, 1999, and December 31, 2005, are eligible to receive the restitution payments. Restitution payments nationwide are expected to total over $300 million.