The U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada has ruled in favor of the Federal Trade Commission in a case against the operators of 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 case was originally filed by the FTC in January 2018, and the court issued a temporary restraining order against the company at that time.
In granting the FTC’s motion for summary judgment, the court found that the defendants’ practices violated the FTC Act and the Mortgage Assistance Relief Services Rule.
Under the terms of the newly issued final order, the defendants will be permanently banned from the debt relief business and will be banned from misleading consumers about the terms of other financial services they may offer, as well as from making misleading claims in advertisements.
The ruling also imposes an $18.5 million judgment against the defendants. The order requires that the contents of numerous bank accounts be turned over to the FTC, along with the proceeds from selling assets belonging to the defendants. Among the assets that will be liquidated are a Park City, Utah ski chalet, an office building, a Mercedes Benz S550, and a Porsche Carerra.
Funds received as a result of the order may be used by the FTC to provide redress for consumers affected by the defendants’ 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.
The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition, and protect and educate consumers.