On January 8, 2018, the Federal Trade Commission filed suit against Consumer Defense, Consumer Link, Prefered Law, American Home Loan Counselors, American Home Loans, Consumer Defense Group, Modification Review Board, Brown Legal AM Property Management, FMG Partners, Zinly, Jonathan Hanley, Benjamin Horton, and Sandra Hanley.
The Defendants, in this case, are names I recognize from past articles on this site. The one that comes to mind is this one where Benjamin Horton and Preferred Law sent me a sternly worded nastygram.
On January 18, 2018, the seal was lifted on the case and the order to freeze assets. The unsealed complaint says from at least 2011 the Defendants have “engaged in a course to advertise, market, sell, provide, offer to provide, or arrange for others to provide mortgage assistance relief services (MARS), including mortgage loan modification services, loan document audits, and services to stop or avoid foreclosure.”
The FTC states, “Defendants have preyed on financially distressed homeowners by luring them into signing contracts for MARS services with promises that they will receive expert legal assistance from Defendants’ attorneys that will stop them from going into foreclosure and modify their mortgage loans to make their payments more affordable. Defendants have touted a perfect or nearly perfect track record of success in obtaining modifications, such as 98-100%, including with particular lenders, and in many instances have provided a guarantee that they will not fail to obtain modifications for their customers.”
The complaint says consumers were typically charged $3,900 up front and then monthly installments of $650 “depending on how much the consumer is willing to pay.” The advance fees for service do run into a conflict with the FTC MARS rule which says no advance fees are allowed.
What makes this case interesting is it was filed by attorneys from the Federal Trade Commission and the Acting U.S. Attorney in Nevada.