DENVER — Colorado Attorney General John Suthers announced today that his office has taken action against 10 loan-modification firms doing business in Colorado as part of his office’s efforts to crack down on loan-modification companies preying on Coloradans in foreclosure. These 10 companies, nine of which are located outside Colorado, either failed to deliver results to Colorado consumers or engaged in deceptive advertising. The actions taken against the companies will require them to either comply with Colorado law or not do business in the state.
“These companies preyed on Colorado consumers who were looking for help trying to find a way out of foreclosure or those close to going under,” Suthers said. “Consumers should not have to worry about businesses — inside or outside Colorado — using deceptive business practices or advertising to take advantage of their misfortune.”
The Office of the Attorney General’s efforts come as foreclosures are on pace to reach record levels in 2009. Suthers has made cracking down on foreclosure-rescue fraud a priority among the office’s consumer protection enforcement efforts. The efforts announced today, in conjunction with a Federal Trade Commission sweep, bring the total number of actions taken this year against loan-modification companies to 17.
Borrowers who are in default on their loans are literally bombarded with solicitations from companies that offer to help save their homes. The Office of the Attorney General has received complaints about some firms that offer to save homes or modify borrowers’ loans by offering “negotiation services.” These complaints indicate that despite the fact that the borrowers paid substantial upfront fees, these firms failed to deliver on their promises. In many cases, the Office the Attorney General discovered these firms accepted consumers’ money — ranging from $2,000 to $3,500 — and made little or no effort to modify consumers’ loans. In some cases, the companies told consumers to stop making their mortgage payments, leaving them at risk of foreclosure. Some borrowers thus end up going into foreclosure as well as losing their upfront fees.
Since the last sweep in July, the Office of the Attorney General has obtained assurances of voluntary compliance with:
- Abbotsford, LLC, d/b/a StopMyForeclosure.net and United Financial Solutions Group LLC located in Queen Creek, Ariz., and Phoenix, Ariz.;
- Airan2, Airan-Pace, Crose & Fernandez, P.A. a law firm located in Coral Gables, Fla.;
- American Summit Financial Services, Inc. and its owner Peter Johnson located in Boulder;
- Best Interest Rate Mortgage Company (BIRMCO) and its owner Michael DiPlacido, located in Westmont, N.J.;
- Financial Solutions Law Group, d/b/a Financial Solutions, and Echo Loans and its owner Kelly David Christensen located in Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.;
- Hope 4 Homeowners America, LLC and its owner Cheryl Barnett located in Birmingham, Mich.;
- Key Mortgage, Inc. located in Baltimore, Md.;
- Gabee, LLC, d/b/a Modification HUB located in Granite Bay, Calif.;
- Modify Loans, Inc. located in Irvine, Calif.; and,
- Pier West Capital, Inc., d/b/a Loan Modification Solutions located in San Clemente, Calif.
These companies are barred from doing business in Colorado unless they comply with state laws, including requirements that only mortgage brokers licensed in Colorado or attorneys licensed in Colorado perform loan modifications. The companies also will be barred from using false or deceptive advertisements. The companies also will be required to comply with provisions of the Colorado Foreclosure Protection Act, such as not charging an upfront fee and using contracts that specifically lay out the agreement between the consumer and the loan-modification company.
The Office of the Attorney General’s actions come as part of “Operation Stolen Hope,” a multistate sweep the Federal Trade Commission announced today. The sweep covers 20 states and announces nearly 90 actions taken against loan modification firms.
* * *
Borrowers who are in foreclosure or who are even behind on their mortgage payments have effective and free options available to them. Lenders are offering programs to help borrowers afford their mortgages. It doesn’t cost anything for borrowers to get help in modifying their loans.
“I would urge borrowers who are in foreclosure or struggling to make their mortgage payments to take the simple step of picking up the phone,” Suthers said. “Free help is only a phone call away on the Colorado Foreclosure Hotline.”
Consumers can contact the Colorado Foreclosure Hotline at 1-877-601-HOPE (4673). The hotline is staffed with HUD-approved nonprofit housing counselors who can talk with them about their mortgage. Studies have shown that four out of five homeowners who use the Foreclosure Hotline stand a good chance of saving their home at no cost.