Regulators in Maine ordered 15 so-called “mortgage rescue” companies to stop doing business in the state because they took advanced fees from homeowners but did nothing to help their clients. According to Will Lund, superintendent of Maine’s Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection, the 15 companies – all of them located out-of-state - collected a combined $36,000 from 30 Maine homeowners and have ignored all communication from state regulators. “Many debt management companies comply with the law and become licensed and bonded for the protection of consumers,” Lund said in a release. “These 15 companies, on the other hand, made false promises and then took money from desperate folks who could least afford to lose those funds.” Many of these companies have names that imply they are related to the federal government’s foreclosure aversion programs and the stimulus legislation and use deceptive advertising to dupe consumers, said David Stolt, the bureau’s chief field investigator. “It’s heartbreaking to talk to consumers who have sent their last $495, $995 or $1,495 to a company that does nothing to help them,” Stolt said in the release. “These companies prey on desperate people that are already facing severe economic hardship.” Maine publishes a roster of the 39 licensed and bonded debt management companies allowed to do business in the state. The 15 companies ordered to cease operations in Maine are:
Federal Loan Modification Law Center; Irvine, CA United Hope Alliance Corp.; Jacksonville, FL National Foreclosure Counseling Services; Jacksonville, FL Hope Now Modifications; Cherry Hill, NJ Pathway Financial Management; Stanton, CA Law Offices of Joel L. Schwartz; Northfield, NJ BillsMadeSimple.com, Inc; San Diego, CA Lewis Foreclosure Mediation Services, LLC; Phoenix, AZ Apply 2 Save, Inc.; Coeur d’Alene, ID HelpModifyNow.com; Newport Beach, CA Ocean View Investment Services Co.; Ft. Lauderdale, FL FHA All Day; Boca Raton, FL Mason Capital Group, LLC; Encino, CA The Hall Firm; New York City, NY Fresh Start Mortgage Assistance Solutions; Beverly Hills, CA and Clearwater, FL
Maine isn’t the only state going after companies allegedly defrauding distressed homeowners. In Kansas, Attorney General Steve Six has filed lawsuits against five businesses he claims are running redemption rights and loan modification scams. In the suits against Kansas-based Apple Asset, LLC, in Overland Park, and Rush Properties, LLC, in Olathe, Six claimed the companies would buy a borrower’s redemption rights and lease back the home to them. When the borrower couldn’t repurchase their property, the companies sell the homes to someone else. The other three defendants announced Tuesday - Florida-based Kirkland Young, Georgia-based ABS Saveco, and California-based Helping Hands Support Services - allegedly ran loan modification scams. The companies charged homeowners to assist in negotiating loan modifications, but only mailed documents on behalf of the borrower. The lawsuits are part of the attorney general office’s greater “Operation Homestead,” a plan that includes assisting some of Countrywide’s mortgage customers and new online resources to increase consumer education about mortgage fraud and their rights in foreclosure. Write to Austin Kilgore.