California-based “Record Transfer Services” owner previously agreed not to solicit deed records to Iowans
(DES MOINES, Iowa) A Polk County judge has ordered a California company behind government look-alike property record mailings to temporarily cease soliciting Iowa residents, following a consumer fraud lawsuit filed by Attorney General Tom Miller.
District Court Judge Karen A. Romano ordered today that Record Transfer Services LLC, of Westlake Village, and company owner Neil L. Camenker, 56, of Camarillo, California, cease soliciting Iowa residents for payment for property deed records or any other government records.
Also today, Miller filed a consumer fraud lawsuit against Camenker and his company, alleging that the company solicited Iowans for $83 copies of property records that owners do not generally need. Iowa property owners can obtain many land records, including deeds, for free or for a small charge, from a local county recorder’s website or office. Property owners can also obtain assessment information from a local county assessor’s website or office for free or for a small charge.
Miller further alleged that Camenker violated a 2011 signed agreement with the Consumer Protection Division, called an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance, which prohibited him or his companies from soliciting Iowa residents for deeds or other government records. At the time, Camenker and his company, “State Record Retrieval Board,” charged Iowa residents $87 for “deed retrieval services.” Camenker agreed that violating the agreement would constitute consumer fraud and trigger various remedies, including civil penalties.
“Camenker’s scofflaw disregard of that commitment makes his liability in this case clear, and calls for civil penalties and other remedies that will send a clear message to him and others of his ilk to steer clear of Iowa,” according to Miller’s petition.
Record Transfer Services, according to the lawsuit, sent “recorded deed notices” to Iowans, claiming they need a copy of their deed as “legal evidence of ownership,” and charging them an $83 “document fee” or “processing fee” for the service. While the solicitation contained disclaimers that the company was not a governmental entity, Miller alleged the mailing was designed to “dupe consumers into making ostensibly mandatory payments.”
“The company name has changed since we last dealt with this issue, but it’s the same owner, the same types of documents and the same tactics,” Miller said. “This is a government sound-alike company trying to dupe Iowans into wasting $87 for what they can otherwise get for free or for just a few dollars.”
Miller noted that several other state attorneys general have previously filed lawsuits or have issued public warnings regarding Camenker and his companies. The Better Business Bureau gives Record Transfer Services an “F” in the BBB’s current business review.
Camenker’s companies have included Record Transfer Services, Transaction Data Services, Conveyance Transfer Services, Compliance Document Services, Secured Document Services, Property Transfer Services, and Record Transfer Service.
The lawsuit seeks a permanent injunction, refunds for Iowans, and civil penalties.
Iowans who believe they were misled into paying money can file a Consumer Protection Division complaint: