ATLANTA — The Federal Communications Commission announced Tuesday that it has taken “decisive actions” to shut down a realty company that roped unsuspecting homeowners into 40-year listing agreements.
Channel 2 Action News teamed up with our sister stations across Cox Media Group to investigate MV Realty.
Homeowners accused the company of offering them quick cash that left them with a four-decade-long agreement that the company could list their homes when they chose to sell or pay the company 3% of the price of the home. The company then filed lawsuits seeking thousands of dollars from homeowners who didn’t comply.
On Tuesday, the FCC ordered all major phone carriers to block robocalls from MV Realty.
Over the course of a two-year investigation, MV Realty repeatedly told Channel 2 Investigative Reporter Justin Gray that they don’t cold-call customers and that people reached out to them to enter into the financial agreements.
But Gray’s investigation found otherwise.
Now, the FCC is saying that not only is MV Realty cold-calling, but they are also illegally robocalling people on the “do not call list.”
In a series of stories, Channel 2 Investigates spoke with homeowners who signed contracts with MV Realty, interviewed former MV Realty company insiders, and researched thousands of documents related to the case, including more than 12,000 liens on properties in seven states.
Channel 2 Investigative Reporter Justin Gray talked to victims of the Florida-based company for months. Gray and other investigators talked to homeowners from Massachusetts to Florida who all had strikingly similar stories.
According to Georgia Superior Court Clerk, there are 3,321 MV Realty Homeowner Benefit Agreements in 104 Georgia counties. About 2,000 of those were here in metro Atlanta.
Julia Henry, 75, was one of those victims. MV Realty sued her for breaking a 40-year-deal that she didn’t even know that she had entered into.
“Would you ever sign a 40-year contract?” Gray asked Henry.
“No,” she said. “I would never do that,” Henry said. “I ask everybody, ‘Y’all know MV Realty?’ Well, don’t get tied up with them. Those are some bad folks.”
Homeowners who signed on the dotted line told Gray they didn’t read the fine print on a deal that could cost homeowners tens of thousands of dollars.
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An MV Realty whistleblower told Chanel 2 Action News that her job was to cold-call potential customers.
“I felt like I was taking advantage of people,” she said. “It’s horrible. I don’t want to make calls anymore.”
Channel 2 Investigates obtained internal MV realty training materials in November showing how employees made the cold calls, including operating a phone burner.
- Lawsuit filed against company accused of luring homeowners into 40-year commitment with quick cash
- 2 more states file suits against realty company that trades quick cash for 40-year listing agreement
- Senators ask federal regulators to look into company at center of Channel 2 investigation
On Tuesday, the FCC announced that they have ordered telecommunications companies to stop what they call “illegal robocall traffic” from MV Realty to targeted consumers. They mentioned the specific phone burner the company used to make the calls.
The FCC alleges that MV Realty place “substantial amounts of apparently unlawful telephone solicitation calls to phone numbers on the national “do not call” registry.”
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“Mortgage scams are some of the most pernicious types of robocalls we see. Sending these junk calls to financially-stressed homeowners just to offer them deceptive products and services is unconscionable. That’s why we are shutting down these calls right now,” FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said.
Last year, the Florida attorney general announced legal action against against the company. In the lawsuit, Florida’s attorney general is seeking to stop enforcement of MV contracts, return money to homeowners and impose civil penalties.
Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr and the Federal Trade Commission also have open, active investigations into MV Realty. Attorneys general in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Massachusetts have also filed suits against MV Realty over their homeowner benefit agreements.
A Washington State legislator has drafted legislation to try to curb these kinds of contracts there.
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