CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey's office has filed a lawsuit against an Ohio County businessman and his Wheeling-based businesses alleging they violated the Consumer Credit and Protection Act; the Mortgage Lender, Broker and Servicer Act; and the Safe Mortgage Licensure Act.
The lawsuit, filed in Ohio Circuit Court, alleges Mark Busack and his business, Major Savings Inc., misrepresented fees charged on consumers’ credit cards for loan services, used deceptive advertising practices when trying to entice homeowners into refinancing their mortgages, unlawfully collected fees in advance of loans closing, ran their credit cards through That’s Italian Specialty Foods, and other violations of state law.
According to the complaint, Major Savings operated under several business names, including That’s Italian, A Plus Family Home Mortgage, Bethany Pike Carwash, and Hole In One Wings And Brew.
The complaint alleges Busack and Major Savings would offer to refinance consumers’ mortgage at a lower interest rate. If customers agreed, the defendants would obtain various financial and personal information from the consumers so the loan applications could be submitted to prospective lenders.
As part of the information, the complaint alleges the defendants would request credit card information from the consumers to cover expenses that had to be paid up front, before the loan closed.
“Busack charged thousands of dollars to consumers’ credit cards without their consent or authorization,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “By way of example only, the defendants charged a borrower’s Discover card 12 times between June and July 2013 for a total of $16,327.50. Defendants also charged the same borrower’s Chase Visa card 20 times between June 24, 2013, and July 8, 2013, for a total of $17,876.50.”
Typical upfront costs include a real estate appraisal, which usually costs between $300 and $450; a credit report, which usually costs between $30 and $45; and a pest inspection report that costs between $40 and $100.
The complaint alleges Busack sometimes told customers that he had to charge fees to their credit card multiple times because was trying to get the loan approved by several different lenders. It also alleges Busack failed to tell prospective buyers that state law prohibited him from charging any upfront fees except those for credit reports, title reports, appraisals, and inspections done by unaffiliated third parties.
The complaint states Busack would make excuses when confronted by customers complaining about the unauthorized charges. Sometimes he claimed it was a mistake. Other times, he claimed it was the industry standard and that their charges would be refunded back when the loan closed.
The complaint also alleges Busack misled customers by running their credit cards through the business account of That’s Italian Specialty Foods. As a result, customers saw charges from the restaurant on their statement and were confused as to why the charges had been placed on their credit cards.
“Defendants obtained significant amounts of money from West Virginia consumers by misrepresenting the charges they made to the consumers’ credit cards in violation of state law,” Morrisey said. “Additionally, defendants failed to truthfully account for their consumer customers’ money which they obtained unlawfully from their credit cards in violation of state law.”
The Attorney General’s Office filed the complaint in conjunction with the West Virginia Division of Financial Institutions. The complaint is the result of a more than 16-month investigation with federal, state, and local authorities after the Office and Division received numerous complaints from consumers.
Douglas A. Davis of the AG's office and Loren C. Allen with the Division of Financial Institutions are listed as the plaintiffs attorneys.
Ohio Circuit Court case number: 14-C-343