Court shuts down alleged sham mortgage relief operation in California

The FTC and California sued several related companies for deceiving consumers with false promises

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI) secured a court order that temporarily shut down the operations and froze the assets of Home Matters USA, Academy Home Services, Atlantic Pacific Service Group, Golden Home Services America and its owners, Dominic Ahiga and Roger Scott Dyer. 

Following a lawsuit from the FTC and the California DFPI, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California last week said there was strong evidence that the companies illegally charged thousands of dollars with false promises that they would negotiate with consumers’ mortgage lenders to alter their loans. 

The court’s decision follows the FTC and DFPI complaint that alleges that they have been deceiving consumers since at least June of 2018 with false promises that they can negotiate lower interest rates or payments. 

Investigations found that the companies targeted distressed homeowners through telemarketing calls, text messages and online ads, promising that they can get consumers’ mortgages modified in three months. 

“At a time when millions of Americans were dealing with a pandemic and struggling to pay their mortgages, defendants preyed on consumers with false promises of mortgage assistance relief,” said Samuel Levine, director of the FTC’s bureau of consumer protection.

The suit claims that the companies violated laws and regulations including the Mortgage Assistance Relief Services Rule, the California Consumer Financial Protection Law, FTC ACT, and the Covid-19 Consumer Protection Act. 

The complaint alleges the companies claimed to be affiliated with government agencies or that their services were part of government covid assistance programs. 

“Illegal mortgage relief assistance schemes prey on the most vulnerable homeowners and are a significant threat to the generational wealth that home ownership provides for consumers,” said DFPI commissioner Clothilde Hewlett. 

The alleged scheme deceived consumers about their services, costing consumers money and harming their credit and often their homes. 

According to the complaint, the companies required consumers to sign “cease and desist” letters that are sent to their mortgage lenders that required the lenders to communicate only with the companies. By not receiving notices of missing payments or default, some consumers found themselves in foreclosure.

Home Matters USA did not respond to requests for comment. Academy Home Service and Golden Home Services America’s websites were not operating and Atlantic Pacific Service did not have a website, nor did it pick up calls.

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