|This is a bulletin just released by the Federal Trade Commission. I hope this is helpful in your avoiding similar scams.|
|FTC Asks Court To Shut Down Phony Debt Relief and Credit Repair SchemeThe Federal Trade Commission asked a federal court to shut down a scam that targeted financially distressed Americans by pitching a phony debt relief and credit repair program, and by falsely claiming the program was provided and funded by the federal government and endorsed by President Obama.The FTC’s complaint targets the operators of two websites that were allegedly full of misrepresentations about the fake program, which they called the “Bill Payment Government Assistance Program.” The sites claimed that the program was governed by the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, a government agency formed to oversee projects funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
Beyond claiming affiliations with and/or endorsements from the Recovery Board, the Department of Treasury, and other federal agencies, the complaint alleges that YouTube videos created by the scam’s operators included a purported personal endorsement from the President with an audio recording of him saying, “I approve this message.”
The complaint alleges that the defendants purported to offer up to $75,000 in debt relief to consumers, along with promises that consumers’ credit scores would “increase within 30 days.” Consumers contacting the scammers, according to the complaint, were told that in exchange for an advance “service charge” of $900 to $1,100, the defendants would pay off the consumers’ debts.
According to the complaint, scammers would ask consumers for details of their outstanding debt, including account numbers, and then arrange bogus electronic payments that gave consumers the impression their debts were in fact being paid. The scammers would then tell consumers to pay the “service charge,” typically through money transfer services such as Western Union or MoneyGram. Once consumers paid the charge, the scammers would then reverse the payments made to consumers’ bills, leaving consumers without the promised debt relief or improvements to their credit scores or limits.
The FTC’s complaint charges the unnamed defendants with two counts of violating the FTC Act’s prohibition on deceptive acts or practices, as well as two counts of violating the Credit Repair Organizations Act’s prohibitions on collecting advance fees before providing credit repair services and making untrue or misleading representations about their services. The complaint asked the court to take steps to halt the scam immediately, as well as for a permanent order stopping the defendants’ activities and requiring them to give up their ill-gotten gains.
The FTC would like to thank the Better Business Bureaus of Washington, D.C. and Eastern Pennsylvania for their assistance.
The Commission vote authorizing the staff to file the complaint was 5-0. The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Aug. 19, 2014, and the court issued a temporary restraining order on Aug. 21, 2014.
NOTE: The Commission files a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. The case will be decided by the court.
The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.
If you have questions or need legal help please call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766.
August 1st, 2014
Bank of America is still paying for fraud by its acquisition of Countrywide Financial Corporation. This time it occurred before and during the time when the government was forced to invest $45 billion in TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program). BofA will pay $1.27 billion for the fraud, which was related to low-quality mortgages sold by Countrywide. Bank of America acquired Countrywide in 2008. In addition, the court ordered a former Bank of America executive to pay a civil penalty of $1 million.
The mortgage fraud was with respect to Bank of America’s lending program called “Hustle,” which stood for “High Speed Swim Lane” or “HSSL.” This was a product line that enabled the bank to create and re-sell a high volume of mortgages at high speed to the government-sponsored entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
To do this, Bank of America removed critical quality control checks and fraud prevention measures that could have slowed down the origination process. This was done despite repeated warnings that doing so would yield dangerous results, including defaults on the loans.
Bank of America received $45 billion in TARP funds.
FOR MORE INFO, CALL ATTORNEY LINDA FESSLER AT 213-446-6766.Read More
SunTrust Mortgage Inc. will pay $320 million to satisfy allegations that it misled people seeking loan modification through the federal HOME AFFORDABLE MODIFICATION PROGRAM (HAMP). The settlement says that SunTrust misrepresented or omitted information to its borrowers and failed to process their applications in a timely manner. $274 million of the settlement will go to their customers who suffered financial harm. Additional funds will go to enforcement agencies engaged in policing mortgage fraud.
If you need further information please call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766.Read More
Ocwen and JP Morgan Chase Face Mortgage Satisfaction Lawsuits
A lawsuit was filed in New York on May 6, 2014 against JP Morgan Chase, alleging that the company failed to file proof of mortgage satisfaction in a timely manner, as required by state law. A mortgage satisfaction is a document generated and signed by a mortgage lender, acknowledging that the mortgage has been paid in full. For the deed to be updated and to obtain clear title to the property, a mortgage satisfaction document must be filed.
The lawsuit alleges that the bank frequently fails to file mortgage satisfactions on time, blocking the closure of deals and adding difficulty to the work of title insurers. In addition, the complaint also alleges that this can prevent property owners from obtaining the clear title needed to complete a property sale or refinance a mortgage. This costs the homeowners financial hardship.
Under New York state law, a mortgage satisfaction must be filed within 30 days or the servicer must pay a $500 fee, with penalty increases to $1,000 after 60 days, and $1,500 after 90 days. It is alleged that based on a review of county records, defendant has failed to file timely mortgage satisfactions in thousands of cases
The federal law is slightly different. The Mortgage Satisfaction Act (MSA) and the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) both require that a formal satisfaction of a loan be filed within 60 days of receiving a written request, following payment of a mortgage loan in full.
A similar lawsuit has been filed as to everyone’s favorite—-OCWEN.
If you have experienced issues with your mortgage servicer, contact Linda Fessler 213-446-6766.
Lawsuit against Ocwen Equals More Scrutiny and Big Bucks
An enforcement action will cost Ocwen a great amount of money. The enforcement action was brought by authorities in 49 states and the District of Columbia as well as CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) against Ocwen Financial Corporation and its subsidiary Ocwen Loan Servicing. The Federal court order against Ocwen which was agreed to by the company, demands that it refund $125 million to compensate people who have already lost their homes through what CFPB called “years of systematic and significant servicing errors.” The court order also demands that Ocwen provide $2 billion in relief to current homeowners who are underwater and in danger of losing their homes.
Ocwen specializes in subprime or delinquent loans and it has been greatly expanding its business in the years since the housing collapse. It is now the largest nonbank servicer and the fourth-largest mortgage servicer overall in the country. Not only has it acquired smaller competitors, it has taken on servicing duties for the some of the big banks. For many borrowers, Ocwen was not their first servicer but CFPB believes that too often difficulties began as soon as a loan was transferred to Ocwen and the company failed to honor trial modifications that were agreed upon by previous servicers. CPFB believes that Ocwen violated federal consumer financial laws at every stage of the mortgage servicing process. The complaint alleges the company took advantage of consumers with servicing shortcuts and unauthorized fees, misled consumers about alternatives to foreclosures, provided false or misleading information to consumers about the status of their accounts and denied loan modifications for eligible homeowners. It also sent robo-signed foreclosure documents through the courts.
The $125 million in monetary compensation will go to consumers who lost their home to foreclosure while being serviced between 2009 and 2012 by Ocwen, or by Homeward Residential Holdings and Litton Loan Servicing which were acquired by Ocwen. In addition Ocwen must complete sustainable loan modifications over the next three years that result in a reduction in principal totaling $2 billion for homeowners who are underwater and struggling to pay off their mortgages.
IF YOU NEED MORE INFO, CALL ATTORNEY LINDA FESSLER AT 213-446-6766
Law Offices of Linda Rose Fessler
WELLS FARGO ‘S FORECLOSURE MANUAL
Homeowners seeking to sue the banking giant for how it treats its borrowers in foreclosure may have just received some help.
U.S. Judge Allan Gropper of New York ruled that Wells Fargo’s Home Mortgage Foreclosure Attorney Procedure Manual will be allowed into evidence at trial. Said ruling was made after a pre-trial motion which argued that the 150-page manual was relevant in the case of Mota v. Wells Fargo because the bank was using it to “falsely create evidence of ownership” in the note. The manual allegedly instructs the bank’s attorneys on how to proceed with foreclosure, even when the bank does not have the necessary documents. After the decision trial attorney Tirelli stated:
“(Wells Fargo) can no longer deny having procedures for endorsing notes or provide witnesses who lack knowledge about the procedures, which is what they have consistently done in the past.” Many attorneys have been faced with witnesses being provided by Wells Fargo who deny there is a process for obtaining endorsements on notes and creating assignments or affidavits when there is a lost note.
FOR MORE INFO, CALL ATTORNEY LINDA FESSLER AT 213-446-6766.
This is an article that has been sent out by the County Recorder. I thought it might be informative. If anyone would like the article in Spanish, please give me your email and I will send it to you.
CALIFORNIA HOMEOWNER BILL OF RIGHTS
The California Homeowner Bill of Rights became law on January 1, 2013 to ensure fair lending and borrowing practices for homeowners. The laws guarantee fairness and transparency for homeowners in the foreclosure process. Here are the new rules:
Homeowner must be contacted prior to foreclosure: A mortgage servicer cannot record a Notice of Default until 30 days after the mortgage servicer contacts the homeowner to look at the homeowner’s financial status and find ways to avoid foreclosure. Mortgage servicer must, at the time of recording the Notice of Default, include an unsworn declaration that says homeowner was contacted or efforts were made to contact the homeowner.
Restriction on dual track foreclosure: Mortgage servicers cannot continue the foreclosure process if the homeowner is working on getting a loan modification. Foreclosure proceedings are stopped until a decision is reached on the loan modification application.
Guaranteed single point of contact: Mortgage servicers are required to provide a single point of contact to homeowners who are at risk of default. This contact-who knows the homeowners’ case and can provide updates on their loan modification application-is responsible for helping homeowners avoid foreclosure.
Verification of documents: Mortgage servicers that record and file multiple unverified and inaccurate documents will face civil penalty of up to $7,500 per loan. They also may face penalties by licensing agencies, such as the Department of Corporations, the Department of Real Estate and the Department of Financial Institutions.
Enforceability: Borrowers have the right to seek civil relief for any material violations of the new foreclosure process protections. Injunctive relief will be available before a foreclosure sale while recovery of money damages will be available after a sale.
Tenant rights: Purchasers of foreclosed homes are required to honor current leases, such as giving tenants at least 90 days before starting eviction proceedings. If a tenant has a fixed-term lease entered into before transfer of title at the foreclosure sale, the owner must honor the lease unless the owner can prove that exceptions intended to prevent fraudulent leases apply.
Tools to prosecute mortgage fraud: The statute of limitations to prosecute mortgage-related crimes is extended from one to three years, allowing the Attorney General’s office to investigate and prosecute complex mortgage fraud crimes. In addition, the Attorney General’s office can use a statewide grand jury to investigate and indict perpetrators of financial crimes involving victims in multiple counties.
If you have any questions, call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766 or email LindaFessler@LindaFessler.com
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OneWest Bank Pays Bigtime for Dual-Tracking in Foreclosure Lawsuit
A California couple who sued OneWest Bank, IndyMac Mortgage Services, U.S. Bank and GSR Loan Mortgage Trust has received a million settlement and title to two of their houses that they lost to foreclosure.
The case gives impetus to other homeowners who have lost their homes to foreclosure to sue banks for the common practice of “dual tracking.” Dual tracking happens when banks pursue foreclosure against homeowners in default while at the same time giving those homeowners the false belief they are working with them by offering loan modifications.
In this case, the banks were sued for fraud, wrongful foreclosure, unfair business practices, quiet title, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. While the homeowners were making payments pursuant to two loan modifications, One West Bank assigned the note to U.S. Bank who foreclosed on both properties.