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American Hope Group to pay $1.6M settlement, AG says

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman speaks at

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman speaks at a news conference in Manhattan on March 21, 2016. Credit: AP

The state’s top prosecutor has reached a settlement requiring a Queens company with offices on Long Island to pay $1.6 million for allegedly cheating homeowners at risk of foreclosure.

The company, American Hope Group, which billed itself as offering foreclosure relief services, and its principal, Mauricio Villamarin Martinez, collected millions of dollars by charging clients illegal upfront fees of $2,850, followed by recurring monthly fees of $695, Eric T. Schneiderman, state attorney general, said in a statement due to be released Wednesday.

The company and Martinez could not be reached for comment Tuesday. In the settlement agreement, American Hope Group and Martinez did not admit or deny the charges against them.

American Hope Group, which was based in Elmhurst and had offices in Amityville and Hempstead, targeted Hispanic homeowners, the attorney general charged.

The homeowners “were cheated out of thousands of dollars, and in some cases even lost their homes, due to American Hope Group’s predatory schemes,” Schneiderman said in a statement.

The settlement requires American Hope Group and Martinez to pay restitution, penalties, fees and other costs, and bans them for three years from offering mortgage or debt relief.

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