Court Freezes Assets Of Mortgage Bank

Attorney General Spitzer said today that his office has obtained a court order freezing the assets of a Rockland County mortgage bank accused of operating a scam that targets first-time home buyers.

Anvil Mortgage Bank, Ltd. and its principal, Eric G. Kotch are accused of collecting millions of dollars in fees from prospective homeowners without providing promised mortgages.

"Anvil lured customers with a promise of easy mortgage approval," Spitzer said. "Anvil's mortgage business is little more than a scam to collect a $500 application fee from unwitting consumers."

Justice Carol Arber of New York State Supreme Court signed the temporary restraining order submitted by Spitzer's office, which also blocks Anvil from accepting mortgage application fees.

Anvil employees used bait and switch tactics to lure consumers to its "home buying" seminars. At these seminars, Anvil used high-pressure sales pitches to induce consumers to pay a $500 fee to be "pre-approved" for mortgages. Few consumers, however, were able to obtain mortgages from Anvil. Anvil also promised but failed to provide various home-buying services to assist consumers.

In the past two years, Anvil has collected at least $7 million from over 14,000 loan applications; however, it has closed on less than 450 mortgage loans.

Spitzer's lawsuit seeks restitution for consumers deceived by Anvil's seminars, which were held in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Yonkers, and Uniondale.

In addition, Spitzer's lawsuit seeks to bar Anvil from operating a mortgage bank or conducting any sales seminars in New York State unless it posts a $1 million performance bond to provide refunds and damages to consumers defrauded by the company. The lawsuit also requests unspecified civil penalties and costs.

The New York State Banking Department has suspended Anvil's license, pending a hearing and determination on whether the license should be revoked permanently. The Banking Department's hearing is set for later this month. Spitzer commended the New York State Banking Department for its efforts and assistance on this case.

This case is being handled by Assistant Attorneys General Amy J. Mayer and Stacey Cumberbatch of the Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau.

Consumers with complaints about Anvil Mortgage Bank are encouraged to file a written complaint with the Attorney General's Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau, detailing their experience with Anvil. Consumers can obtain complaint forms by calling the Attorney General's help line at (800) 771-7755 or visiting his web site at www.ag.ny.gov.


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