Joseph Anton Hilton and Adam Forman of Parkland, Florida were arrested last week for allegedly defrauding over 300 clients. The two men allegedly offered debt consolidation and residential loan modifications through a bogus law practice in Coral Springs.
Forman and Hilton are facing charges for practicing law without a license with additional charges pending. Jail records show Hilton, 56, is being held in lieu of a $250,000 bond and Forman, 46, is being held on $75,000 bond. News sources did not name attorneys for either defendant.
According to a complaint filed by the Florida Attorney General’s office, the two men are the owners of The Asset Protection Law Firm in Coral Springs, which specializes in debt consolidation and residential loan modifications. Before it was shut down, the firm allegedly had more than 300 clients, all of whom are homeowners who were losing their homes to bank foreclosures.
The Attorney General’s office said Forman and Hilton “deceived homeowners into paying hefty upfront and monthly fees” for legal services that weren’t provided or approved by licensed attorneys. Forman allegedly told his clients to ignore bank notices and stop paying their mortgages because their firm would personally deal with the bank.
Forman and Hilton also purportedly deceived several legitimate novice lawyers they hired to work for their firm. They allegedly used the bar license information and names of the lawyers they hired to file retainer agreements, corporate filings, court documents and other legal documents to delay bank foreclosures, allowing them to continue collecting retainer fees from their clients.
The state has reportedly received 37 formal complaints from homeowners about the firm. When clients wanted to stop paying their retainer, Hilton and Forman allegedly used harassment and threats to coerce them into paying.
Police raided the law firm’s office in Coral Springs and collected boxes of evidence before arresting Hilton and Forman. Officials believe the two men worked with some of their employees to run fake law firms in West Palm Beach and Boca Raton.
The Asset Protection Law Firm reportedly had 15 employees, some of whom may be named in the case. Police said the bogus firm has had several names over the years including: Consumer Legal Advocates II, LLC; Oracle Marketing Co. and Consumer Legal Resources of Florida, LLC; and finally, The Asset Protection Law Group, P.A.