The Federal Trade Commission said thousands of distressed borrowers may be victims of false claims of mortgage relief help. Instead of relief, the homeowners found themselves deeper in debt and the FTC is looking to end it, at least at a handful of firms.

The FTC filed three lawsuits in federal court to halt the practice. In November 2010, the FTC issued the Mortgage Assistance Relief Services rule, or MARS, which bans mortgage foreclosure rescue and loan modification services from collecting fees until results are produced.

The FTC lawsuits allege MARS violations similar to 40 other suits the federal agency filed in the last two years.

The FTC is suing American Mortgage Consulting Corp., Expense Management America and Prime Legal Plans/Reaching U Network.

These companies, the lawsuits allege, would provide "services" such as forensic audits for $750 a month. Another charged an upfront fee of $1,495 to $4,495.  One company even posed as a charity.

The FTC said the actions of the three entities were damaging. One promotion brochure from Expense Management America, explicitly told consumers they must follow the “Golden Rule,” which was to cease communicating with their creditors and let the defendants do the talking.

According to the FTC, the defendants failed to produce any of the promised results.

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