The State of Connecticut, which has been historically tough on debt relief companies, has focused on another one.
The State says Smart Marketing Corp, Smart Family Group, and Rency Mejia were engaged in debt relief in the state.
These situations and reporting is an opportunity for all debt relief operations to evaluate their operations and see if there is anything that could land them in similar hot water.
The allegation is:
1. SMC is a New York corporation with a principal place of business at 220 Old Country Road, Suite 202, Mineola, New York. Pursuant to the New York State Department of State, Division of Corporations, State Records and UCC, Walter Valladares (“Valladares”) is the Chief Executive Officer of SMC.
2. SFG is a New York limited liability company with a principal place of business at 220 Old Country Road, 2nd Floor, Mineola, New York.
3. Mejia is a natural person associated with SMC and/or SFG.
4. On or about June 7, 2016, a Connecticut consumer (“Mortgagor A”) entered into an Agreement entitled “SMC Contract” (“Agreement”) with SMC, to assist with negotiating a modification of the residential mortgage loan secured by Mortgagor A’s primary residence.
5. The Agreement specifically authorized Respondents to prepare letters, documents or other necessary correspondence and paperwork on Mortgagor A’s behalf, which would include personally identifiable information such as account numbers and SocialSecurity numbers, and further authorized Respondents to sign letters and correspondence on Mortgagor A’s behalf.
7. Mortgagor A represents that he paid Eight Hundred Dollars ($800.00) to SFG, One Thousand Nine Hundred Dollars ($1,900.00) to Mejia and Four Hundred Dollars ($400.00) to SMC for the debt negotiation services, which payments totaled Three Thousand One Hundred Dollars ($3,100.00).
8. Respondents engaged in communications with Mortgagee in pursuit of a loan modification, including, but not limited to, responding to document requests from Mortgagor A’s mortgagee.
9. On or about November 30, 2017, the Department received a complaint from Mortgagor A regarding debt negotiation services provided by Respondents.
10. On or about 2015, a second Connecticut consumer (“Mortgagor B”) entered into a contract with SMC and/or SFG for Respondents to provide professional assistance in connection with resolving a mortgage default and foreclosure action brought by Mortgagor B’s mortgage company.
11. Mortgagor B paid Four Thousand Six Hundred Dollars ($4,600.00) to SMC for the debt negotiation services.
12. Respondents failed to provide all or part of the debt negotiation services as advertised and promised to Mortgagor B.
13. The sums that Respondents charged Mortgagor A and Mortgagor B are in excess of the amount that debt negotiators may charge for services related to secured debt pursuant to the Schedule of Maximum Fees established by the Commissioner on or about October 1, 2009 (“Schedule of Maximum Fees”).
14. The Schedule of Maximum Fees provides, in pertinent part, that “[a] debt negotiator of secured debt, including Short Sales and Foreclosure Rescue Services, may impose a fee upon the mortgagor or debtor for performing debt negotiation services not to exceed Five Hundred Dollars ($500). Such fee shall only be collectable upon the successful completion of all services stated in the debt negotiation service contract”.
15. At no time relevant hereto were Respondents licensed to engage or offer to engage in debt negotiation in this state, nor did Respondents qualify for an exemption from such licensure.
16. At no time relevant hereto was Mejia licensed as a mortgage loan originator, nor did Mejia qualify for an exemption from such licensure.
17. On or about May 31, 2018, the Department sent a letter to SMC by certified mail, return receipt requested, which was signed for by Mejia, regarding possible unlicensed debt negotiation activity and requesting a response to further evaluate the need for licensure.
18. No response was provided to the Department by SMC or Mejia.
19. On or about October 19, 2018, the Department sent letters to Valladares by certified mail, return receipt requested, requesting a response from SMC on or before November 2, 2018. One letter was received on October 24, 2018, and the other on November 1, 2018. 20. To date, Respondents have failed to provide a written response to the Department.
More information can be found by reading the full State document.