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March 23, 2010

Pro Bono Attorney Training Assists Maryland Homeowners Avoid Mortgage Scams

Richmond, VA

The Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond and Civil Justice Inc., a Maryland nonprofit public interest law firm, will sponsor pro bono attorney training as part of the Maryland Mortgage Fraud Prevention Project. The training is for attorneys interested in receiving free instruction and mentoring in exchange for a commitment to review documents for first-time homebuyers and homeowners refinancing their mortgages.

The training will be held March 26, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., at the Richmond Fed’s Baltimore Office, 502 S. Sharp Street, Baltimore, Md.

Borrowers from all income and education levels are susceptible to unknowingly entering into predatory real estate transactions. To ensure transactions are in the best interest of homeowners and lenders, first-time homebuyers and those seeking mortgage refinancing are encouraged to seek legal advice prior to signing their purchase contracts and loan documents. “While we all agree that borrowers should be financially literate, financial literacy does not mean that a borrower has the ability to understand complex legal documents to confirm whether they are receiving the type of loan they expected and whether the settlement costs and fees are customary, fair, and reasonable,” said Diane Cipollone, manager of the Maryland Mortgage Fraud Prevention Project at Civil Justice.

The Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention funded the Mortgage Fraud Prevention Project under grant number BJRA-2009-1092 to help prevent mortgage fraud by ensuring Maryland homebuyers are signing documents in line with the type of loan they expect. Access to legal review services prior to signing their mortgage documents could help homebuyers avoid obtaining a mortgage that could place them at risk of foreclosure.

Civil Justice Inc. will coordinate the placement of the cases with pro bono attorneys and provide free training, mentoring and malpractice insurance coverage in exchange for a commitment f to review documents for either one purchase or refinance. Advanced training will be offered covering civil remedies for violations of Maryland’s mortgage fraud, consumer protection, and other related laws. Attorneys are required to accept another document review pro bono for each of the advanced training attended.

The Richmond Fed serves the Fifth Federal Reserve District, which includes the District of Columbia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and most of West Virginia. As part of the nation's central bank, we're one of 12 regional Reserve Banks that work together with the Federal Reserve's Board of Governors to strengthen the economy and our communities. We manage the nation's money supply to keep inflation low and help the economy grow. We also supervise and regulate financial institutions to help safeguard our nation's financial system and protect the integrity and efficiency of our payments system.


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