This has to be the worst Mother’s Day present ever.
Real estate attorney Mitchell Kossoff allegedly forged his 94-year-old mother’s signature to take out more than $2 million in loans before he went AWOL earlier this month.
Kossoff, who went radio-silent in early April when clients began asking about their escrow accounts, took out $2.6 million in August and January in merchant cash advances — essentially a kind of corporate payday loan where a firm sells its future revenues in exchange for up-front cash. Kossoff agreed to pay back $3.7 million, according to a lawsuit filed two weeks ago by the financing firm.
The loan documents show the signatures of Kossoff and one purported to be that of his mother, Phyllis Kossoff. So when the attorney defaulted on the financing agreement, the lender sued both son and mother.
Phyllis, however, claims that her son forged her signature, and only dropped the bomb on her last week that there “are ‘some documents’ which had her signature ‘but which she had not signed,’” according to court documents the mother filed Thursday.
“As incredible as it sounds . . . it is obvious that Mitchell Kossoff forged his mother’s signature in order to obtain millions of dollars from the defendants for the benefit of himself and his businesses,” attorneys for Phyllis wrote in a motion seeking an injunction to prevent the lender from going after her for the funds.
Phyllis Kossoff’s attorney declined to comment further. Mitchell Kossoff could not be reached for comment.
The news that Mitchell spoke to his mother — a wealthy philanthropist who helped found the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation — as recently as last week is the first public hint as to his whereabouts since he went off the map about three weeks ago.
Kossoff held money in escrow for his real estate clients and many feared he had stolen the money. His law firm has essentially shut down and several of his clients are trying to force the company into bankruptcy.
Kossoff has until next week to respond to the bankruptcy filing. If he doesn’t, the judge will appoint a receiver to shepherd the bankruptcy process.
The Manhattan district attorney’s office is said to be investigating claims that Kossoff misused his clients’ funds. Kossoff has reportedly retained a criminal defense attorney to represent him should he face any charges.