LOS ANGELES (CBS) — California Department of Justice officials raided a Calabasas law firm as part of an investigation into alleged legal fraud that may have touched thousands of victims, the state attorney general said Thursday.
Nineteen DOJ agents and other state authorities seized computers, 16 bank accounts, and client files at the law firm of Kramer & Kaslow on Wednesday.
Attorney General Kamala Harris accused the firm of bilking close to 2,500 distressed homeowners facing foreclosure in a so-called mass-joinder scam, which “victimized them for a second time.”
Harris said the firm urged homeowners in California and 17 other states to pay between $4,000 and $10,000 to join a class action lawsuit against mortgage lenders, but ended up treating the plaintiff’s cases separately.
Clients who pursued information from the lawyers about their cases were rejected, and in some cases their calls were never returned.
She said the lawsuit targets four attorneys, but dubbed Philip Kramer the “ringleader.”
The California Bar Association changed the firm’s voicemail to alert clients that their files have been confiscated and provide instructions for retrieving their case files.
The firm’s website offers to help clients assert their “legal rights through ‘mass action’ litigation to force the banks to do what they should have done voluntarily and pay for their predatory lending tactics.”
Harris said the firm could face tens of millions of dollars in fines, penalties, and restitution.