CHARLESTON - A Charleston man is suing Bank of America N.A. and JPMorgan Chase Bank N.A. for illegal debt collection in two separate lawsuits.

In 2005, William Martin was induced into two simultaneous loans with Quicken Loans based on misrepresentations regarding the actual value of his property, according to two complaints filed April 17 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

Martin claims his Pennsylvania home secured the loans and the combined indebtedness of the two loans was more than $293,000; the first mortgage was for $187,000 and the second mortgage was for $106,300.

Quicken's appraiser appraised the property at a value of $300,000 when, unknown to Martin, the property was only worth approximately $240,000, according to the suits.

Martin claims the first mortgage was subsequently assigned to Bank of America and the second mortgage was assigned to Chase.

In January 2006, Martin discovered the inflated appraisal when his job required that he relocate to West Virginia, according to the suits.

Martin claims after he moved he was unable to sell the property for enough to cover the two loans and, because he could not sell the home for enough to satisfy the indebtedness, he contacted the defendants to explore loss mitigation alternatives.

The defendants refused to provide Martin with any assistance and he obtained counsel, which then provided the defendants with his counsel's information, according to the suits.

Martin claims despite being aware that he was being represented by counsel, the defendants continued to attempt to contact him to collect the debt.

Bank of American engaged in illegal debt collection attempts on at least 19 occasions and Chase engaged in illegal debt collection attempts on at least 20 occasions, according to the suits.

Martin is seeking actual damages and civil penalties of $4,800 for each violation pursuant to West Virginia code. He is being represented by Bren J. Pomponio and Sean W. Cook of Mountain State Justice.

The cases have been assigned to Circuit Judge James C. Stucky.

Kanawha Circuit Court case numbers: 13-C-744, 13-C-746

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