WASHINGTON — The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has taken its enforcement authority to the streets — literally.
The agency released a consent order Friday citing a land-development company, International Land Consultants, and several individuals for not maintaining roads in a Tennessee county.
As strange as it may seem that an agency meant to protect consumers from financial harm is now also protecting them from potholes, it is an obscure part of the CFPB's authority.
The Dodd-Frank Act transferred authority to enforce a number of rules from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to the CFPB, including one that sets restrictions on how a registered development must be marketed and reported. The CFPB order said that Florida-based International Land Consultants and four individuals "made misrepresentations to consumers" about the roads in a Tennessee development called Hawks Bluff.
"Among other things, they misrepresented in marketing materials and Housing and Urban Development-registered Property Reports that they would maintain the roads until they were accepted by Van Buren County, Tennessee," the CFPB said in a press release. "In fact, the roads have not been maintained, and have not been accepted by the county."
Both the land developer and named individuals have admitted to the violations. The individuals are: Rocco Toscano, Joseph Mazzucco, James Vincent and James Tague.
The order said that the named parties engaged in the marketing and sales of lots on the Hawks Bluff development from 2004 to 2008. The lots were priced around $20,000 to $80,000 and each named party "directly profited from the sale" of those lots, stated the order.
The violations occurred when the parties incorrectly reported that the roads in the development were complete and built to standards for approved private status in both HUD's registered-property report and a Florida Public Offering Statement that is distributed to property owners and potential purchasers. The property report also indicated that the roads would be maintained by the seller until it was accepted by the county, neither of which occurred, the order said. These activities were in violation the Interstate Land Sales Full Disclosure Act.
The accused were ordered to repair certain roads in Hawks Bluff that meet the CFPB's satisfaction as well as an engineering report that is being prepared by an independent consultant.