More than a dozen purported mortgage relief companies were fined $18.5 million and banned from offering debt relief services, a U.S. District Court in Nevada ruled Monday.
The case was originally brought forth by the Federal Trade Commission in January 2018, and accused the 13 companies of operating, “a scheme that deceived financially distressed homeowners by falsely promising to make their mortgages more affordable.”
“The defendants also charged consumers illegal advance fees and unlawfully told consumers not to pay their mortgages to or communicate with their lenders,” the FTC’s office of public affairs said in a news release.
The original charge temporarily halted the companies from doing business, but with this new ruling, the court banned the companies from the debt relief business, from misleading consumers about the other financial services they offer and from making misleading claims in advertisements.
In addition to the $18.5 million judgment, the contents of various bank accounts were ordered to be forfeit to the FTC, which will also sell a number of seized assets, including a ski chalet, office building and luxury cars. The money obtained may be used by the FTC to provide compensation to victims of the scheme.
The defendants subject to the order are Preferred Law PLLC; Consumer Defense LLC (Nevada); Consumer Defense LLC (Utah); Consumer Link Inc.; American Home Loan Counselors; American Home Loans LLC; Consumer Defense Group LLC, formerly known as Modification Review Board LLC; Brown Legal Inc.; AM Property Management LLC; FMG Partners LLC; Zinly LLC; Jonathan P. Hanley; and Sandra X. Hanley.
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