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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Following SF Weekly Column, Attorney General Sues Famed Swindler Paul Noe II

Posted By on Thu, Jul 9, 2009 at 2:30 PM

click to enlarge swindlers.jpg

Paul H. Noe II, scion of one of America's great criminal dynasties, was sued this week by California Attorney General Jerry Brown, who alleges Noe and his attorney cheated at least 2,000 defaulted homeowners out of thousands of dollars each. The suit comes after SF Weekly in September of last year broke news about Noe's latest apparent scam, a mortgage assistance scheme in which Noe's operators convinced defaulted homeowners that he could help save their houses.

"In the course of their elaborate foreclosure rescue fraud scheme, defendants have unlawfully and unconscionably charged thousands of dollar to at least 2,000 consumers, while falsely promising to help their victims eliminate mortgages on their homes and improve their credit," says the Attorney General's complaint, filed Monday.

Brown's complaint echoed  allegations in the aforementioned SF Weekly column. Noe and his attorney Mitchell Roth convinced Spanish-speaking victims to sign English-language contracts, their actions violated state laws governing so-called mortgage consultants, and also violated laws prohibiting attorneys from hiring agents to solicit business for them, according to both the column and Brown's complaint.

Roth and Noe lured victims with the help of a boiler room of telemarketers, and a suite of helpful-seeming Web sites, offering a promise to allow foreclosed homeowners stay put by filing lawsuits based on the claim that the bank didn't have legitimate title to the property. Roth offered victims a "joint venture" in which they would pay thousands of dollars in retainer fees in exchange for pursuing these "missing title" legal clams.

It turned out that that Roth, under the employ of the Noe-controlled corporation United First, was filing thousands of template lawsuits on behalf of victims, and them simply letting them die in court unattended, collecting monthly fees from each victim until their case was finally thrown out.

Last fall, Los Angeles District Court Judge Manuel Real noticed he was seeing repeat instances where Roth's law firm would file a case, then not respond to counterfilings by mortgage company attorneys. A quick Google search by mortgage company lawyers turned up the SF Weekly column, as well as Roth and Noe-linked sites such as www.stopforeclosure.com and www.bailoutmyhouse.com. After Real heard about at least nine such cases -- and learned of the "joint venture agreements" Roth and Noe were compelling consumers to sign -- the judge announced in court that he would send memorandums to various law enforcement agencies recommending that Roth be investigated. SF Weekly  subsequently received a call from an FBI agent regarding the "Con Man Paul Noe II" story. Roth, for his part, earlier this year checked himself into a mental institution, and agreed to allow the state bar to put his law practice into receivership.

Before Monday's lawsuit, Noe had appeared to be a west coast version of the teflon don, running serial apparent swindles, which were amply covered by SF Weekly without recieving so much as a law enforcement slap on the wrist. Noe was the subject of the 2003 SF Weekly story "Son of Super Swindler", which described how Noe had launched a series of shell companies to front an operation in which his associates would trick senior citizens into putting their life savings into ill-advised, fee-heavy investments. Noe ran his elderly investments operation with the help of two brothers, creating the latest chapter in what has become a multigeneration family of alleged high-level con artists.

Paul Noe II had been convicted of felony fraud during the 1980s for his participation in a scam run by his uncle, Clifford Noe. During the 1960s, Clifford and Paul Noe's namesake father ran a series of international bank scams that became the subject of two books, and numerous magazine and newspaper articles -- which elevated the elder generation of Noe brothers to among the 20th century's greatest con men.

Brown's lawsuit seeks $2 million in civil penalties, repayment for Noe and Roth's victims, and an injunction preventing the two men from ever providing foreclosure consulting services.

 

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Matt Smith

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