I-TEAM: MV Realty’s business practices concerning to members of Congress

DAYTON — After the Ohio Attorney General’s Office officially sued a real estate company this week, accusing it of a “shameful” and “deceitful” business model, the I-Team spoke with Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown about the company’s business practices.

As the I-Team has previously reported, MV Realty is doing business in 33 states, including Ohio where we found more than 700 homeowners statewide under contract with the company. At least 148 of those customers are in the Miami Valley. The Florida-based realty company is accused of “swindling” homeowners by placing 40-year liens on homes across the U.S.

>> RELATE: I-Team: Ohio AG announces lawsuit against MV Realty, founder, broker for ‘misleading’ customers

The I-Team’s ongoing and months-long investigation into the company’s business practices has caught the attention of members of Congress, including Brown, who told the I-Team Friday that he’s concerned about companies like MV Realty.

“I’m concerned about their behavior as I’m concerned about those companies that that play the land and contract game,” Brown said.

In December, Brown sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau calling on the agencies to investigate whether MV Realty is violating federal consumer protection laws. On Friday, he said the conversations with federal officials are ongoing.

“If there is a way of holding them accountable or when they commit illegal acts, I’m not a lawyer, but committing illegal acts that we hold them to those standards.

The I-Team’s investigation into the realty company has spanned seven states. Reporting from News Center 7 and seven of our sister stations in Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Jacksonville, Orlando, Pittsburgh, and Seattle has gotten results in our respective communities.

>> PREVIOUS COVERAGE: I-TEAM: Senators call on consumer agencies to investigate exclusive real estate listing agreements

Our reporting has prompted Washington state lawmakers to hold hearings on MV Realty’s business practices, while attorneys general in North Carolina and Georgia have confirmed open investigations into the company.

This week, Ohio became the fourth state to sue the company, joining Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Florida which all filed their complaints in December. Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost’s lawsuit aims to stop new MV Realty agreements, and said the company is “tricking people to make money off of their homeownership.”

The three other state AG lawsuits seek to void existing contracts and ask courts to order civil penalties.

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office has told News Center 7 that Yost has been unavailable this week to comment on why Ohio’s lawsuit doesn’t mention existing MV deals. A spokesperson for Yost’s office responded in an email saying, “This lawsuit differs from others and was filed on behalf of the Dept. of Commerce. We are working to stop the company from engaging in their practice going forward. Ohioans who suspect unfair or deceptive business practices should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioProtects.org or 800-282-0515.”