SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Several California district attorneys Tuesday announced a $873,588 settlement with a Florida-based title insurance company alleged to have used a real estate software system that facilitated illegal secret payments to brokers for business referrals to title insurers and other providers.
The San Diego County District Attorney's Office will receive $302,862 from the settlement with Fidelity National Financial Inc. San Diego County was co-counsel with the district attorneys of Ventura and Los Angeles counties in the civil consumer protection lawsuit.
The civil complaint was filed in Ventura Superior Court under California's Unfair Competition Law.
"Consumers deserve the benefits of competition when they buy homes and choose service providers and these secret payments in exchange for referrals violated expectation," San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said. "We bring enforcement actions like this to ensure that free and fair competition -- and not an undisclosed referral payment -- determines who provides each real estate settlement service."
Fidelity National developed "Transaction Point" software and its web-based referral system in 2002 to assist brokers in preparing transaction documents and ordering related real estate settlement services, such as escrow, title insurance and natural-hazard disclosure services, officials said.
However, the district attorneys allege that Transaction Point also was used by the brokers to charge and collect unlawful fees of $25 or more from providers of those services, including from service providers affiliated with Fidelity National, which made the payments on their behalf. Fidelity National stopped operating the Transaction Point system in late 2009 when the system was questioned by authorities.
Under the terms of settlement -- which was entered without admission of liability -- Fidelity National is prohibited from paying any real estate broker that places an order with the company for title insurance or other goods or services using Transaction Point or any other similar order placement system, or paying a fee to any real estate broker for the use of any similar computerized system.
Metropolitan Transit System is scheduling extra service starting Monday for a three-day game series between the San Diego Padres and Chicago Cubs at Petco Park, a spokesperson said.
Veterans are being honored across San Diego County during Memorial Day weekend and dozens of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts were among those spending their Saturday placing American flags at burial sites at the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery.
Commencement was held Sunday for seniors at the University of San Diego, with ceremonies featuring a pair of distinguished alumni.
Cool and cloudy conditions start off Friday morning, but the sun will break through in the afternoon. Strong winds in San Diego County's deserts are also expected to ease up Friday morning.
A 30-year-old was knocked out and stabbed three times at the Beyer Trolley Station early Sunday morning, according to Officer Robert Heims of the San Diego Police Department.
A bird was responsible for an outage that left thousands without electricity Sunday, a San Diego Gas & Electric spokesperson said.
The remains of a U.S. Navy pilot killed when his plane was shot down during the Vietnam War have been brought to San Diego for burial.
In the wake of the Gate Fire, which ignited May 20, the Bureau of Land Management has issued new restrictions for Southern California counties, including San Diego.
With thousands of San Diegans expected to celebrate the holiday weekend at the beach, lifeguards are on high alert and a have a few warnings for those headed to the water.
U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California, is scheduled to visit local Navy personnel in San Diego and Coronado next week, her office announced Saturday.