|HUD No. 23-116
HUD Public Affairs
June 13, 2023
HUD Charges New York Corporation and Associated Entities for Targeting Black Caribbean Homeowners in Fraudulent Mortgage Scam
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it has charged multiple entities and individuals related to the Homeowner Assistance Services of New York ("HASNY") with housing discrimination for perpetrating a scheme to deceive distressed homeowners into forfeiting title to their homes. HUD’s charge alleges that HASNY, Amir Meiri, Herzel Meiri, Ron Meiri, Rajesh Maddiwar, Yudhamann Prashad, Jacob Samra, Springfield Realty of New York, Inc., Martin Development and Management, LLC, Launch Development, LLC, 272 Milford Street, LLC, Advill Capital, LLC, and Petermark II, LLC targeted New York City homeowners on the basis of race, color, or national origin in violation of the Fair Housing Act. Read the Charge.
The Fair Housing Act prohibits entities and individuals involved in real estate-related transactions from discriminating in making available such transactions or in the terms and conditions of such transactions because of race, color or national origin. The Act also prohibits anyone from making housing unavailable because of race, color, or national origin and from coercing or interfering with individuals who are exercising their fair housing rights. This includes targeting individuals because of their race, color, or national origin for fraudulent mortgage and foreclosure prevention assistance to gain title to their homes.
“It is imperative that we ensure hardworking families, regardless of racial and ethnic background, are protected against all acts of housing discrimination,” said HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge. “The Fair Housing Act is the law of the land – and today’s charges shows HUD’s commitment to rooting out these sorts of injustices across the country.”
“Perpetuating a coordinated discriminatory mortgage rescue scam is not only illegal, it is unconscionable,” said Demetria L. McCain, HUD’s Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “HUD will continue to hold those who prey on homeowners because of the color of their skin or the nation of their origin accountable for violating the Fair Housing Act.”
HUD’s Charge of Discrimination, filed on behalf of seven homeowners, alleges that HASNY and its associates targeted the homeowners for fraudulent mortgage and foreclosure prevention assistance by filing illegitimate liens and using telemarketing to convince homeowners to engage with HASNY for refinance assistance. After the homeowners accepted their offer of assistance, they used false promises of legal assistance, reassurances, and outright lies to convince the homeowners to sign documents that unknowingly sold their homes to Martin Development, LLC and Launch Development, LLC, which resulted, for most, in efforts by Herzel, Amir, and Ron Meiri to force them to vacate their homes. HASNY’s actions were disproportionately concentrated in neighborhoods which had a high majority of persons of color, specifically persons who are Black and of Caribbean descent. They also used “affinity marketing” to gain the trust of elderly, vulnerable, and distressed homeowners by employing telemarketers who brought up their shared national origin and utilized cultural practices to build relationships and trust with the homeowners.
The U.S. Department of Justice previously criminally charged Herzel Meiri, Amir Meiri, and Rajesh Maddiwar, as well as several other HASNY employees, with bank and wire fraud crimes stemming from the conduct alleged in the Charge. Respondents Herzel Meiri and Amir Meiri pleaded guilty, and Rajesh Maddiwar was convicted after a jury trial and later disbarred for his involvement.
“The fraudulent and discriminatory actions of HASNY are wholly unacceptable,” said HUD’s General Counsel Damon Smith. “HUD will take action when companies or individuals conspire to defraud homeowners because of their race, color, national origin or other protected characteristic.”
A United States Administrative Law Judge will hear HUD’s Charge unless any party to the Charge elects to have the case heard in federal district court. If an administrative law judge finds, after a hearing, that discrimination has occurred, the judge may award damages to the homeowners for their losses as a result of the discrimination. The judge may also order injunctive relief and other equitable relief, to deter further discrimination, as well as payment of attorney fees. In addition, the judge may impose civil penalties to vindicate the public interest. If a federal court hears the case, the judge may also award punitive damages to the homeowners.
People who believe they are the victims of housing discrimination should contact HUD at (800) 669-¬9777 (voice) (800) 927-9275 (TTY). Additional information is available at www.hud.gov/fairhousing.