Article Courtesy of The Sun
Published September 7, 2016
Authorities say two phony lawyers set up an office in
Coral Springs and drew in more than 300 trusting homeowners on the brink
of losing their homes to foreclosure.
Joseph Anton Hilton, 56, and Adam Forman, 46, owned The Asset Protection
Law Firm, 3921 NW 126th Ave., which offered residential loan
modifications and debt consolidation, authorities said.
But neither Hilton nor Forman, both of Parkland, was licensed to
practice law in Florida, police said. Each has been charged with
practicing law without a license, a third-degree felony. Hilton is
jailed on $250,000 bond; Forman is being held on $75,000 bond, jail
records show. Additional charges are pending.
According to the Florida Attorney General's Office, the pair "deceived
homeowners into paying hefty upfront and monthly fees for legal services
not supervised or approved by licensed attorneys."
The state received 37 formal complaints from consumers, but police said
the pair's client roster included more than 300 homeowners. Others may
be implicated, police said, but there had been no further arrests as of
According to an attorney general's complaint, Hilton, who used the name
Joseph Starr with clients, and Forman told homeowners not to pay their
mortgages and ignore notices because the law firm would be dealing with
their banks at a "higher level." They advertised a firm with an "elite
network of over 100 attorneys."
The pair also deceived legitimate lawyers, mostly novices, and recruited
them through Craigslist to work for their bogus law firm, officials
said. Hilton and Forman used these legitimate lawyers' names and bar
license information for corporate filings, retainer agreements with
desperate homeowners and other legal documents, according to the
attorney general's office.
Court documents were filed using the real attorneys' information to
delay foreclosures and allow Hilton and Forman to continue collecting
monthly fees from homeowners, officials said.
When homeowners tried to stop paying the phony law firm, Hilton and
Forman used other tactics — threats and harassment, the complaint said.
The pair, along with other employees, also ran bogus law offices in Boca
Raton and West Palm Beach, officials said.
Thursday, investigators raided the Coral Springs law office and hauled
away stacks of boxes containing evidence. Hilton was arrested at the
office; Forman was apprehended on an arrest warrant Friday, records
When police arrived, there were about 15 employees working at the fake
law firm, according to Sgt. Scott Myers. Some may be implicated in the
crimes, he said.
The bogus law firm has had several names, police said, among them:
Consumer Legal Advocates II, LLC; Consumer Legal Advocates, Inc.; The
Asset Protection Law Group, P.A.; Oracle Marketing Co. and Consumer
Legal Resources of Florida, LLC.
"This is an active, ongoing investigation. We're interested in providing
justice and fairness to everybody involved," Myers said.
Authorities urge anyone who might have been a client of Hilton,
Forman or their law firms to contact Coral Springs Detective Jason
firstname.lastname@example.org or Broward Crime Stoppers at 954-493-8477.