Operation Loan Lies Nabs Four – Loan Modification Help Center

Written by admin on April 22nd, 2011

Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairman Jon Leibowitz was recently joined by California Attorney General Jerry Brown to announce the initiation of “Operation Loan Lies”, a coordinated national law enforcement effort to crack down on mortgage loan modification scams.

The operation has already filed 189 actions by 25 federal and state agencies against fraudulent loan shops that used deceptive marketing to push their shabby or non-existent foreclosure rescue and mortgage modification services. The actions involve homeowners across the country but were announced in Southern California, where the fraudulent companies were based. “These con artists see the high foreclosure rates as an opportunity to prey on people in distress,” FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said. “They promise to rescue homeowners in troubled financial waters, but after they take their money they throw them an anchor instead of a lifeline.”

In conjunction with the announcement the FTC gave details on four additional lawsuits which brings the total of mortgage foreclosure rescue and loan modification scam cases the Commission has brought since April to fourteen. In the four new lawsuits, defendants are charged with:

Making false claims that they would obtain a home loan modification Making claims that, in conjunction with the loan modification, they would stop foreclosure proceedings Failing to honor promises of refunds to homeowners if the proposed action was not successful

The defendants are charged with doing little or nothing to advance the loan modification process for their clients after receiving fees approximately equal to one month’s mortgage payment.

The specific charges against defendants are as follows:

U.S. Foreclosure Relief made false claims of fast turnarounds for approvals and years of experience with fictitious success rates for their loan modifications. Homeowners received neither. They are also charged with violating the FTC’s Do Not Call Rule due to their repeated contacts with homeowners on the National Do Not Call Registry. Pending a court date, assets of U.S. Foreclosure Relief were frozen. Lucas Law Center made false representations about their capability to obtain loan modifications. They also told homeowners to divert their mortgage payments toward paying Lucas’ fees, a violation of the law. The company did provide refunds to some of their clients but only after repeated complaints and requests for help from the Better Business Bureau, the California Attorney General, the State Bar of California, and/or local authorities. The court froze Lucas Law Center’s assets ahead of a court hearing Loss Mitigation Services assured homeowners that their loan modifications were virtually assured because they were a department of, or affiliated with, the consumer’s lender or mortgage servicer, a complete fabrication. Some homeowners lost their homes while waiting for modifications which would never happens. ·         Apply2Save made claims that they could get loan modifications done in thirty to ninety days when, in fact, they never made contact with the homeowners’ lenders. To stall for time, Apply2Save told their customers that paperwork was lost, often more than once.

Operation Loan Lies follows an April 6, 2009, announcement by FTC Chairman Leibowitz, Attorney General Eric Holder, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan that there would be a crack-down on companies that were set up to defraud homeowners seeking home loan modifications.

The four companies provide valuable lessons in how homeowners can protect themselves from hiring a deceptive company that will not deliver on promises. In the case of U.S. Foreclosure Relief, one warning sign would any talk or intimation of affiliation with the U.S. government. U.S. Foreclosure Relief and Apply2Save both pitched themselves as being able to get approvals for home loan modifications faster than any of their competitors. Homeowners should be aware that the process of modification is two sided and that lenders are currently flooded with applications. Any promises of fast turnarounds should be met with great skepticism. Lucas Law Center advised customers to pay them instead of their lender, an obvious warning about their regard for legal and ethical standards. Finally, Loss Mitigation Services’ claims of affiliation with lenders and guarantees of loan modification approvals because of it were definite red flags. Finding the truth would have been as easy as making a direct call to the lender to verify the claims.

Avoiding the problems encountered by homeowners that were scammed by these firms is as simple as asking the right questions, doing some leg work, and realizing that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Insist on working with a firm that has already done hundreds of loan modifications and can prove it. Visit the office and ask questions until you’re comfortable. A loan modification is a huge and important undertaking. Ensuring its chances of success by doing your homework will keep you out of trouble and give you a much better chance at staying in your home.

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