While some of the properties were listed by licensed real estate brokers in Southwestern Pennsylvania, Platt is accused of listing the properties himself for more than the actual listing prices.
|A Pennsylvania man has been ordered to release liens on more than 100 illegal second mortgages and return more than $2 million in illegal fees.
A court order was issued on Sept. 8 against James C. Platts and his companies, Easy Realty Solutions Inc.; Guaranteed Results Co.; and Easy Realty Solutions LLC, which did business as Fieldstone Real Estate Co., Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett recently announced.
The order, issued by Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas Judge Christine A. Ward, requires Platts to pay a $2.3 million in consumer restitution during the next 60 days, $0.1 million in civil penalties and $8,526 in court costs. In addition, 111 second mortgages for more than $1.2 million must be satisfied.
A civil complaint was originally filed on Nov. 15, 2007.
Platt, who currently is incarcerated in West Virginia as the result of an unrelated federal criminal case, is accused of making illegal second mortgages, inflating prices and failing to disclose fees, the state said.
Platt allegedly used newspaper classified ads, direct mail solicitations and his Web site, www.EasyRealtySolutions.com, to advertise the purchase or sale of properties. But he didn't have a Pennsylvania real estate broker's license.
photo of James C. Platts
"According to the lawsuit, the fees were not clearly disclosed in various sales agreements, and consequently many buyers and sellers had no knowledge of the substantial payments being made to Platts," the attorney general said. "Platts and Easy Realty are accused of deceptive advertising; failing to disclose the terms of real estate transactions to consumers; failing to provide buyers with federally required disclosures; fraudulently negotiating sales with lenders and the unauthorized practice of law."
He made at least 113 purchase second mortgages for more than $1.2 million without a secondary mortgage loan license, Corbett claims. He made the seconds without the knowledge or consent of the sellers and immediately assigned them to himself or his companies after closing.
In all, Platt collected more than $2 million for unlicensed transactions.
He also allegedly filed at least 159 lis pendens notices against property sellers in an effort to extract additional payments when their homes were sold, according to the statement. The filings are usually made to serve as notice of a pending civil lawsuit against a property owner and establish a claim against that property.
His fees to satisfy the illegal filings ranged from $1,198 to $78,599. A total of $1.8 million in lis pendens fees were allegedly collected.
Florida authorities have been notified that Platt has engaged in similar activities there.
James C. Platts and his companies, Easy Realty Solutions Inc., Easy Realty Solutions LLC (doing business as Fieldstone Real Estate Co.) and Guaranteed Results Company
Nov. 15, 2007 (Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas)