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Tampa lawyer involved in mortgage rescue scam loses law license

Published Aug. 7, 2015

TAMPA — A Tampa lawyer who helped swindle homeowners out of $4.7 million during the mortgage crisis has had his law license revoked by the state Supreme Court.

In July of 2014, the attorneys general for Florida and Connecticut filed a federal lawsuit alleging lawyer Ian S. Berger, along with several others, had scammed struggling homeowners by promising them loan modifications if they signed on to "mass joinder" lawsuits against their lenders.

At least 1,000 borrowers did. For this privilege, the firms typically charged them $6,000 in fees, plus an extra $500 a month in "maintenance" costs.

The firms did file lawsuits against the banks but, according to the complaint, they never applied for or obtained the hoped-for loan modifications. The groups made "no attempt to delay or stop foreclosure," for their clients.

In addition to targeting Berger and his Tampa firm, the Berger Law Group, the lawsuit named two other firms — Tampa-based Resolution Law Center and another Florida company called Litigation Law.

Last December, Berger settled, agreeing to pay $215,000 as an individual as well as about $1.1 million from his law firm.

Facing multiple investigations into his actions by the Florida Bar, he voluntarily petitioned Florida's Supreme Court to revoke his law license, a request the court granted. He will have the option to reapply for a license in five years.

In an email to the Tampa Bay Times, Berger, 37, said he had been led astray by the Resolution Law Group.

"I was led to believe the original lawsuit had merit and had only the best intentions from the beginning," he wrote. "I did the honorable thing by voluntarily surrendering my license. When I am able, I plan on compensating those that have been inadvertently harmed."