Industry News

Ohio real estate agency sued for alleged kickbacks

Homeowners allege affiliated business arrangement funneled kickback fees

A federal lawsuit has been filed against an Ohio real estate agency alleging that the company set up a sham operation to enable it to accept kickback payments for business referrals from Chicago Title, owned by Fidelity National Financial. The lawsuit, filed Nov. 9 by Erick Carter and his wife Whitney Hayes-Carter, alleges that Welles Bowen Realty of Toledo, Ohio, set up an affiliated business, Welles Bowen Title Agency, to funnel kickbacks it allegedly received from Fidelity National Financial and Chicago Title Insurance Co. The plaintiffs are seeking class-action status with the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. Affiliated business arrangements, or ABAs, such as the one targeted in this suit have come under national scrutiny in the wake of investigations into title insurance industry referral practices. In early July, First American Title agreed to pay $680,000 in a settlement with the Department of Housing and Urban Development over a prob...