MN Commerce Dept. Fines Loan Officer, Debt Collector

In two separate cases, the state's Commerce Department issued a $100,000 fine to debt collection agency First Financial Services and its owner, as well as a $70,000 fine to Marlon Pratt, a former loan officer.

The Minnesota Department of Commerce on Thursday said that it has levied a total of $170,000 in fines against two Minnesota companies in two unrelated cases.

In the first case, Lonsdale-based debt collection agency First Financial Services and its owner, Khemall Jokhoo, were fined for threatening to have consumers arrested, making false statements, and “engaging in harassing, oppressive, and abusive conduct.”

Jokhoo and First Financial allegedly convinced consumers and their credit card companies to make unauthorized transfers of thousands of dollars to the company's account. The firm and its owner are also accused of claiming they were federal investigators and lawyers while attempting to collect funds.

Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman described the company's actions as “reprehensible” in a statement issued on Thursday. The company's license was revoked, and it was fined $100,000.

In an unrelated case, the Commerce Department barred Marlon Pratt from conducting residential mortgage business in the state and fined him $70,000. According to the Commerce Department, Pratt has already been sentenced to more than a decade in prison and fined $500,000 after being charged with 17 counts of theft by swindle and two counts of racketeering.

Pratt was a loan officer for New York-based Universal Mortgage, Inc., and he allegedly “engaged in a pattern of mortgage fraud, misleading lenders as to the true purchase price on at least 17 properties.” By fraudulently obtaining loans, he received more than $693,000 in kickbacks, the Commerce Department said.