Wednesday, August 12, 2009

California AG Cracks Down on Loan Modifiers

by Calculated Risk on 8/12/2009 04:39:00 PM

From California AG Jerry Brown: Brown Orders Mortgage Foreclosure Consultants to Post $100,000 Bond or Face Prosecution (ht Matt at O.C. Register)

Threatening possible criminal and civil prosecution, Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today ordered 386 mortgage foreclosure consultants to post $100,000 bonds and register with his office.

He also ordered more than two dozen companies to justify suspicious loan modification claims made in "slick advertising," online and through the mail.
...
Brown has sent letters directing 386 mortgage foreclosure consultants to register with his office within 10 days and post $100,000 bond, or demonstrate why they are not required to. If the consultants are required to register and have failed to do so, they are subject to criminal penalties of up to a year in jail and fines ranging from $1,000 to $25,000 per violation. Eighty-five of these consultants are based in Los Angeles County, 133 in Orange County, 47 in the Inland Empire, 68 in San Diego County and seven in the Bay Area.
...
The State Bar of California today announced that it has obtained resignations from two lawyers and filed charges against a third for their loan modification activities.
And check out some of this advertising that Brown demanded loan consultants substantiate:
· Brown directed Irsfeld, Irsfeld & Younger, LLP as corporate counsel for JL Richman, doing business as Home Retention Programs of Glendale, Calif. to substantiate its claims including: "Our team has 10 years of success in negotiating 90% of all mortgage loan modification requests to a successful outcome….For the modification requests we accept, our modification failure rate is less than 1%."

· Brown directed 21st Century Real Estate Investment Corporation of Rancho Cucamonga to substantiate its written solicitations including: "[y]our proposed loan modification is a 30 year fixed/3.5% interest rate with a monthly payment of $495. Your monthly savings is $705. Total savings over a 30-year period is $253,800. . . . Your first payment will be negotiated to begin March 2009 - payable to your current lender for $495."

· Brown directed Mortgage Modification Solutions of Irvine to substantiate its claims including: "Our services are due to the FEDERAL MANDATE which makes it mandatory for mortgagees, upon the default of a single family mortgage, to engage in loss mitigation actions" and "Why $3995.00 is nothing compared to what you can accomplish in return? #1- It's 10 times more expensive to hire a CPA or a Financial Advisor to exclusively analyze & Research your financial affairs to create a plan acceptable to the Banking standards."

· Brown directed Alliance Law Center of San Diego to substantiate its letters to consumers stating: "Final Notice: 3/11/09, our review of certain information indicates you may be a victim of federal disclosure violations and/or predatory lending violations, therefore your loan may be invalid, and you may qualify for a loan modification saving you thousands of dollars."
The tips on avoiding scams can't be repeated enough.