FTC Settlement Orders Ban Faux Mod Providers

deral Trade Commission (FTC) has taken legal actions against more than a dozen marketers accused of pitching bogus mortgage modification or foreclosure relief services. The FTC settlement orders ban 16 marketers from the mortgage modification or foreclosure relief business. The promoter of a similar scam has been ordered to pay $11.4 million for flouting a previous court order. And, in a new action, the FTC has charged another online marketing operation with masquerading as a government mortgage assistance program. The FTC alleged that the defendants – Sean Cantkier, Michael Haller, Alan LeStourgeon, Greg Rivera, Lisa Roye, and Jeffrey Altmire – who operated under the name Making Home Affordable, impersonated MakingHomeAffordable.gov, a federal government website. The defendants bought advertising links on the results pages of Internet search engines, and consumers looking for "making home affordable" were diverted to commercial websites that pitched loan modification services or sold consumers' personal information to marketers of such services. Other operations banned by the FTC went by such names as the Federal Loan Modification Law Center and New Hope Modifications. In addition to the ban on selling mortgage relief services, the settlement order imposes a judgment of almost $3.9 million, which will be suspended when the defendants surrender their assets as specified in the order. The full judgment will become due immediately if they are found to have misrepresented their financial condition, the FTC says. The order was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. The $11.4 million contempt order against Bryan D'Antonio and three companies he controls – The Rodis Law Group Inc., America's Law Group Inc. and The Financial Group Inc. – came at the request of the FTC, which charged that operators of the scam had falsely claimed they would stop foreclosures and negotiate lower mortgage interest rates, monthly payments and principal balances. Promoters of the scam claimed a 100% success rate and wrongly advised consumers to pay them instead of making mortgage payments. The FTC alleged that homeowners got few, if any, loan modifications, and many people lost their homes to foreclosure after paying them up to $5,500. The operators also falsely claimed that attorneys would check consumers' loan documents for fraud and other lending violations that they would use as leverage in negotiating loan modifications, according to the complaint. In May 2009, the FTC charged the defendants with violating a 2001 order that banned D'Antonio from telemarketing and misleading consumers about goods or services. SOURCE: [link=http://ftc.gov/opa/2010/06/loanmods.shtm]Federal Trade Commission


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