The Federal Trade Commission won a $2.6 million federal court judgment against three defendants behind a scheme that charged consumers large upfront fees while failing to deliver the mortgage modifications promised.
As a result of the ruling, made by the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, the three defendants were banned from telemarketing financial products or services; from selling mortgage modification, foreclosure rescue, and debt-relief products or services; and from collecting or attempting to collect from consumers who had agreed to purchase a mortgage-assistance product or service for 10 years. The court also ordered the defendants to destroy any consumer information they'd collected within 30 days after the order takes effect.
The FTC filed a complaint against the nine defendants behind the Crowder Law Group in a 2009 law enforcement sweep as part of its continuing effort to keep homeowners from being targeted by mortgage-related scams. The FTC accused the defendants of promising relief from heavy mortgages by claiming they could modify consumers' mortgages and reduce their monthly payments substantially, as well as exaggerating the role an attorney would play in obtaining a modification and pretending to be affiliated with a government agency.
The defendants' operation involved a marketing company that contracted with a direct-mailing company to send oversized postcards to homeowners nationwide whose mortgage payments were at least two months behind. The cards offered financial relief to the homeowner and displayed a toll-free phone number and the signature of a local attorney that was paid $100 to accept the homeowner into the program. Upon calling the toll-free number, homeowners were asked to hand over financial documents and a $2,000 fee.
The full report can be found here.