On April 29, 2015, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Maryland Attorney General announced the filing of a complaint and proposed consent order against a regional title insurance company, its principals, and certain loan officers. The title company allegedly provided payments to loan officers in exchange for referrals for title services. Such kickback schemes are illegal under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (“RESPA”). The title company allegedly purchased consumer marketing data and provided it to the loan officers, and mailed advertisements encouraging prospective homebuyers to hire the loan officers. The loan officers, in turn, allegedly referred all of their customers to the title company for title search and other real estate closing services. The title company allegedly provided kickback payments to the loan officers for each referral. The CFPB and the Maryland Attorney General estimate that the loan officers received between $130,000 and $500,000 in kickback payments between 2009 and 2013. Under the proposed consent order, which is subject to court approval, the individual defendants will be banned from the mortgage industry for a period of between two and five years and required to pay fines ranging from $30,000 to $400,000. The individual defendants also must pay restitution to affected consumers. The title company will be banned from the mortgage industry for five years and required to pay restitution, in an amount to be determined by the CFPB after it contacts affected consumers.
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