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Mortgage company investigated for falsifying applications 

It's been a year since Shawntell Law-North, a Lithonia bank teller, lost her job due to allegations that she falsified her home loan application -- then was reinstated after her employers learned she'd fallen prey to predatory lending.

Now, the brokerage firm that allegedly tampered with her application ient of Banking and Finance. And in March, the federal government revoked the company's ability to initiate FHA mortgages.

Georgia State Mortgage faces two allegations that could lead to the company's license being revoked: falsifying loan applications and hiring loan officers ineligible to originate loans in Georgia.

Falsifying loan applications has become a widespread practice in metro Atlanta, forcing predominantly low-income and elderly home buyers into foreclosure, according to attorneys with Atlanta Legal Aid. And seldom does the state have a chance to reprimand brokerage firms for the predatory practice; the companies often incorporate under a new name before the state can act.

Carlos Kavanaugh, president of Georgia State Mortgage, testified at a July 27 hearing before the state Banking Department that he accidentally hired people he shouldn't have: "We didn't have the knowledge needed to figure out that we had hired felons."

But the state contends that if Kavanaugh had notified the Banking Department when he purchased Georgia State Mortgage in 2002, he would've been aware of such procedures.

Russ Willard, spokesman for the state attorney general's office, says victims of falsified applications, such as Law-North, might be called to testify.

"I just want this company to pay for what it did," says Law-North, whose home-buying experience was the subject of CL stories in June and July 2004. "They've taken advantage of innocent people just trying to buy homes."

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