Last night I saw an ad for a non-profit group promoting debt settlement. It was a company I had not heard of before called Financial Hope for America. It piqued my interest to see a non-profit group wandering so boldly into the debt settlement arena, especially when the domain name I saw advertised was non-profitdebtsettlement.net.
Rather than just give you one of my typical reviews on this company I thought I take you on the journey I took to learn more about this company and let you see the path my examination took.
Hum, a non-profit company running an ad specifically for debt settlement. That’s odd. I wonder who is behind non-profitdebtsettlement.net?
Let’s see who owns the domain name.
30141 Antelope Rd
Menifee, California 92584
And the domain was just registered a couple of months ago on March 10, 2010. Interesting.
The domain took me to a company called Financial Hope for America.
A web search for Financial Hope for America turned up their primary domain name, FinancialHopeofAmerica.org but the domain name ownership was hidden. I did noticed the domain used the nameservers of company, CFPGLLC.COM. A lookinto this domain found that it is owned by:
30141 Antelope Rd
Menifee, CA 92584
Now that is very interesting. A nonprofit group that advertises debt relief services that has a persistent connection with a marketing company. Let’s see how 3M Marketing describes themselves.
First I want to make sure I have the full name of the company so since the company says it is located in California I went to the state records to search for 3M Marketing. In California there is no registered corporation or LLC with the name 3M Marketing. I went back to the domain records for the original domain names I searched but the email address listed was a Yahoo free email address so that doesn’t help figure out who these people are. Let’s search by address and see what we come up with.
It turns out that 30141 Antelope Road, Menifee, CA is a shopping center and I could find no business listed there named 3M Marketing. But I did find a mail drop store called Postal Annex that might be where the company is located. Here is a listing of the companies located at the address given for 3M Marketing. Payless Shoe Source, GNC, Postal Annex, Ross Dress For Less, Mirage Pool Plastering, Luv 2 Camp, PPCRep.com, Menifee Beauty Supply & Salon, Gotta Love’Em! Pet Care, Erickson Orthodontics, Clifton Photography, Mobile Baby Store, LUV2CAMP, Amy Dawnelle Portrait Photography, Jim Appliance Repair, Menifee Cleaners, JW Doors & Window Replacement, Flowers Bouquet Corral Menifee, Christian Mentors Murrieta, Homes for Sale – Menifee Ca, D J’s Fabrications, Saunder and Turner, Healthy Smile Dentistry, All Season Air Conditioning & Heating, Eagle Golf, Eyre Fire Co, Short Sale Menifee, , Pueblo Viejo Mexican Food, Cathay Chinese Food, Simply Panache Hair Design, Menifee Donut Depot, Pool Service Pros, Appearance Technicians, HPBA II Menifee, Arroyo Paula, Cristina For Hair, Into Construction Inc, Western Pacific Home Improvments, Children’s Dental Practice Of Menifee, Harris Michele, In House Lender ( Real Estate Loans ), AE & E Inc, A-HG Company.
Based on what I know so far I’ll have to stick with the Postal Annex as being the most logical candidate for 3M Marketing.
Financial Hope for America describes themselves as a “non-profit organization dedicated to assisting Americans overcome hardships associated with the unemployment, foreclosure, housing and credit crises in America.” – Source
They list their address as 40810 County Center Drive, Suite 160, Temecula, CA 92591. A search for that address lists Bonterra Consulting, Certified Financial Protection Group, Nationwide Solar Power, Pac Ten Partners, and RBF Consulting located at that address.
In my search for businesses located at this address I discovered a domain name MikeWayman.info that actually resolved to the Financial Hope for America website. When I say “resolved to” I mean if you type in MikeWayman.info it takes you to the corporate site for the non-profit company. Now that’s very odd. Why would an individual site go to a registered 501(c)3 site for Financial Hope for America. – Source
To make this even stranger this new site for Financial Hope for America lists a whole bunch of new information i had not seen before. It has a different telephone number for Financial Hope for America. This one is 888-343-3442. It lists a wide variety of services including asset protection, credit repair, and a business opportunity.
The PowerPoint presentation they have lists the contact email address as firstname.lastname@example.org and it you go to fha365.com you wind up on the Certified Financial Protection Group, LLC web site. Ah, now we know who Financial Hope for America really is. – Source
So as it stands right now it appears that Financial Hope for America is a front for Certified Financial Protection Group, a for-profit company, and the web site for Financial Hope for America is under the control of 3M Marketing and Mike Wayman.
Let’s go check the status of a registered company called Financial Hope of America. California lists that a company called Financial Hope for America, Inc was registered on December 18, 2008. Interesting. Certified Financial Protection Group, LLC was registered on November 19, 2008 and guess who the agent listed for the company is, Mike Wayman.
I went to the IRS site to search if Financial Hope for America was a listed non-profit organization. You can search charities here.
A search for Financial Hope for America found no IRS recognized exempt organization listed under that name. A search on GuideStar.org, the non-profit information clearinghouse could locate no non-profit by that name either. There is no information I can find that confirms Financial Hope for America is a non-profit organization.
A further search for the Financial Hope for America address of FHA365.com led me to the following comment:
We were assigned to this company by Mike Gibson with Leaders in Financial Education in Santa Rosa, CA while trying to find help with our adjustable, pick-a-payment loan when our mortgage payment nearly doubled. In requesting docs from the bank we discovered fraud. We were told we needed CFPG to do an extensive Forensic Loan Audit in order to address the fraud and obtain a loan modification.
We provided all required documents; including our entire financial history, tax returns, bills, loan docs, etc. They charged $3,200 before giving us our forensic loan audit that was incomplete and inaccurate. They didn’t use the documents provided to complete the loan audit correctly.
Don Brokaw, Mike Waymond, Yasmeen Frierson, and these “Loan Modification Specialists” didn’t do ANYTHING they said they would do.. Didn’t provide our documents to lender, didn’t follow up with lender or communicate with us, and verbally insulted my husband and I.
We terminated our relationship in writing with CFPG due to their non-performance and breach of contract. We demanded a refund, and they have ignored our demands. We are now consulting an attorney and are seeking a remedy through litigation.
We informed our lender and CFPG, they no longer represented us, yet they continue to contact our lender regarding our loan as if they were our advocates. They won’t return our documents, money, or phone calls.
Business had changed names several times, and owner currently is listed on the California Department of Real Estate website Desist and Refrain Orders for Unlicensed Activities. We’ve kept detailed records and documents of all communications between ourselves, L.I.F.E and CFPG/Safehouse. – Source
What is interesting about this is I did see a search result previously listing Certified Financial Protection Group on a list of companies not authorized to deliver loan modification services.
I jumped over to the BBB site to check the ratings for Certified Financial Protection Group and Financial Hope for America.
As of the date I originally wrote this review, May 28, 2010, the company has 38 BBB complaints, of which 28 were never answered by the company. – Source
The BBB report also stated:
On March 13, 2009 the California Department of Real Estate filed an Order to desist and Refrain against this company’s principal, Michael Wayman for operating without a DRE license.
The Order was filed in the public’s interest when the DRE investigated and discovered that companies operated by Mr. Wayman had engaged in the business of charging, receiving, collecting or contracting for the collection of a fee for the performance of loan modification services with respect to a loan which was secured by a lien on real property. According to the Real Estate Commissioner, these acts or practices would require the company to obtain a Real Estate license.
The companies, and Mr. Wayman were ordered to desist and refrain from performing any and all acts requiring a Real Estate license in the State of California, unless or until licensing requirements have been met. Upon entry the Order was finalized.
Of particular interest in the review was the statement by the BBB about the alleged non-profit status of this company and I imagine they made the connection to the non-profit claims of Financial Hope for America as I did. In fact a search for Financial Hope for America BBB report takes you to the report for Certified Financial Protection Group.
On 8/27/2009 we wrote to this company asking them to provide their IRS letter of Determination authorizing them to advertise as a 501c3 non profit organization, and expressed our concerns with their referrals to unlicensed. foreclosure consultants. The company failed to provide adequate substanciation of their non-profit status with the IRS, and failed to comment on the unlicensed referrals.
The BBB Offers this additional history as well.
“This company’s principal, Mike Wayman, previously owned and operated other loan modification companies in the Southland called New World Financial Services, and Money Management Services, dba Safe House 911 and Loan Modifications 360. These companies generated a number of customer complaints, in which most cases the company failed to address resulting in F ratings for the businesses. Money Management Services, Safehouse 911, and Loan Modification 360 were also the subject of an Order to Desist and Refrain filed by the California Department of Real Estate on March 13, 2009. Separate reports are available upon request.
As of July 1, 2009, the California Foreclosure Consultant Act was enacted to safeguard the public against deceit and financial hardship, and to encourage fair dealing in the rendition of foreclosure consulting services. With certain limited exceptions, it is now illegal to operate as a foreclosure consultant in California without completing registration and bonding requirements. Foreclosure consulting companies must register with the Justice Department, and post a $100,000 bond with the secretary of state for a period of two years. If the company violates the law, a court may order restitution to victims out of proceeds from the $100,000 bond. Companies who fail to comply will be subject to criminal penalties of up to a year in jail and fines ranging from $1,000 to $25,000 per violation.
The Act also affords consumers a 5 day rescission period to cancel contracts without penalty or obligation, and requires the companies to have a pre-printed cancellation notice, along with instructions for cancellation included with the contract. Contracts must also be in writing, and provided in the language requested by the homeowner. If your written contract does not inform you of your right to a refund or to cancel, you may demand your refund or cancel your contract at any time, without regard to these time limits. Despite the law’s protections, if you are not dealing with a reputable company, you may find it difficult to enforce your rights.
We advise you not to rely solely on registration or licensing to determine the reliability of a loan modification company, though. Despite the law’s protections, if you are not dealing with a reputable company, you will find it difficult to enforce your rights. You should investigate the background and worthiness of any company offering to provide you with these services.”
Certified Protection Group also appears on an official publication of companies that have not properly registered with the Attorney General Office in California. – Source
Back to Financial Hope for America
I finally found a definitive statement to tell us who is behind Financial Hope for America.
MICHAEL B. WAYMAN
Mike has over twenty-five years of experience in the financial services industry covering the full spectrum of financial services and products. His business skills are demonstrated by his ability to take a company from an idea to a reality as a successful entity.
In addition to being a successful business entrepreneur, Mike has distinguished himself for over fifteen years as a police officer and deputy sheriff. Along with many notable achievements, he has been awarded the Courage Under Fire Commendation Medal.
Mike is a dedicated family man and has been married for twenty-six years, is the father of two grown children and is an active member of the business community. Over the years, Mike has generously donated his personal time and effort to help his friends and neighbors find financial solutions to their problems. As Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Financial Hope for America, Mike hopes to provide a host of financial services that meets the growing needs of everyone across America that is struggling with the mortgage epidemic and the financial crisis.
With over 17 years of military service, and a career in law enforcement, combined with the experience of owning a successful business, Don brings exceptional leadership skills to Financial Hope for America. He has significant experience and expertise in problem solving situations, and utilizes these skills to the benefit of our Members and Client’s.
During his career as a law enforcement professional, he was responsible for the implementation of technical and operational systems and procedures for several law enforcement agencies in many locations that resulted in more efficient and operationally sound stations. Don has completed numerous extensive, specialized training courses in leadership with a special interest in personnel issues in the workplace.
Don’s compassionate yet straight-forward way of working towards the betterment of a Client’s situation is the driving force behind the results driven staff at FH4A. He maintains a “No is Not an Option” mentality when fighting for the cause of a Client. It is Don’s heartfelt belief that that there is no problem that cannot be solved with “outside the box” thinking, and he strives to share and instill this philosophy throughout FH4A and its’ staff. – Source
I found the following promotional video for Financial Hope for America that represents they are a non-profit organization.
And here is a video that identifies who the guy is in the Financial Hope for America videos, Don Brokaw, the Director of Operations for the Certified Financial Protection Group.
So far I’ve spent two hours on this quest for information on Financial Hope for America. Let’s turn to their claims of offering debt settlement services.
The video on the home page of their debt settlement site makes it sounds like their service is free and painless. They say the also offer a free debt settlement ebook.
Here is what their debt settlement service page looks like.
This debt settlement page is the worst I think I’ve ever see on the web. It lists none of the consequences of debt settlement, does not mention the risk of being sued, damage to credit, tax consequences, continued collections, etc.
A consumer landing on this site and reading this page would believe this is a legitimate nonprofit organization, although I can find no evidence it is, they would think the service is free, which I seriously doubt it is, and the consumer would not be aware of any of the risks associated with debt settlement.
In fact at least one consumer said they paid $3,000 for service from Financial Hope for America that they never received. – Source
On their testimonial page it says “You can Immediately Download some of our most recent client Testimonials. These show our success in reducing our client’s principle balances down to as little as 10% of their original balance!” – Source
Here is the really strange part, the link for THEIR testimonials is http://usa-debtsettlement.com/Forms/debtsettlementtestimonials.pdf. Who the hell is usa-debtsettlement.com? Is that Financial Hope for America? And I thought I was just about done here.
USA Debt Settlement
So take a wild guess who owns usa-debtsettlement.com.
30141 Antelope Rd
Menifee, California 92584
And the USA Debt Settlement site even uses the exact same wording to describe their services. Compare the page below to the debt settlement page from the Financial Hope for America page I showed you above.
A search for the USA Debt Settlement telephone number (888) 495-2054 takes you to Financial Hope for America. It’s all one big circle. I’m so confused now I think I’ll check what other domain names on on this same server.
And instead of a clarifying note to end on, here is a last tidbit to consider. I found yet another web site for Financial Hope for America, finacnialhopeforamerica.org, that lists their address as 27890 Clinton Keith Road, Ste. D415, Murrieta, CA 92562.
A web search for that address does not list an office for Financial Hope for America but a UPS Store mailbox drop. This street address took me to a web site (taxsettlement.me) for Financial Hope for America where they sell tax settlement services.
The Final Kicker
On my way out of the Financial Hope for America site I passed through the credit score restoration service page where they make the following statement:
“Members of Financial Hope for America can take advantage of our credit score restoration service that guarantees a minimum 90 point credit score improvement on all three bureaus in 90 days. This score improvement and timeline is backed by a 100% money back guarantee. There are thousands of credit restoration companies throughout the nation and few provide a 100% guarantee of their services. – Source”
It appears the company is guaranteeing to improve credit scores for an advance fee and that clearly violates the Credit Repair Organizations Act.
After spending now four hours looking at Financial Hope for America and the accompanying maze I am left with the conclusion that I have no idea what they say that is factual or believable in my opinion. I also will not be surprised if the charge into this site and post some nasty comments because they will not like what I have said. My bet is that in order to try to silence these findings they will come out swinging.
While Financial Hope for America may be pissed off at me for looking at them they can improve their standing tremendously.
Here are my suggestions:
- They can produce their official IRS determination letter showing they are a non-profit organization.
- They can produce their 990 returns showing their non-profit business activity.
- They can transfer ownership of their primary domain to the non-profit organization.
- They need to distance themselves from Mike Wayman since a non-profit organization can not have a financial relationship with direct officers of the non-profit that is neither at arms length or self-serviing.
- It appears that since the services of Financial Hope of America are delivered by companies owned or controlled by Mike Wayman that Financial Hope for America is funneling consumers through an alleged charity to an affiliated for-profit company of the non-profit CEO. This is a clear violation of the IRS regulations regarding 501(c)3 non-profit organizations.
- The underlying service providers for Financial Hope for America need to get in compliance. It does not appear that Certified Financial Protection Group is registered with the State of California to do loan modifications and I could not find any registered company under the name USA Debt Settlement in California. A search of the California registration page for approved loan modification companies said “NO, “Financial Hope for America” is NOT a registered Foreclosure Consultant” and “NO, “Certified Financial Protection Group” is NOT a registered Foreclosure Consultant.”
- If this company is a non-profit organization they operate as a charity to protect the public it appears in my opinion they way they operate violates the public trust. It appears they have relationships with unlicensed companies and share personal information about people that apply for information through their site with affiliated for-profit companies.
If you are a consumer and thinking of using the services of Financial Hope for America, in my opinion, you need to be warned and beware. I don’t like what I’ve seen so far.
Update: July 17, 2010
I was very critical of Financial Hope for America in my story “Non-Profit Debt Settlement – Financial Hope for America. Who Are They Really?” and even more so when Don Brokaw from Financial Hope for America started making statements in the comments to that story. Especially disturbing to me was the fact that while they portrayed themselves to be a non-profit agency they were not an IRS approved charity and as Don says “FH4A did apply with the IRS for the non profit status. We were unable to qualify for the status so we are a CA Not for Profit company.” Like that makes the misrepresentation better.
Another tipster (send in your tips here) has told me that since the story Financial Hope for America is moving in a new direction.
FH4A is trying to stay afloat by moving in a different direction from loan modification…it is getting into a MLM organization known as 5Linx. COO Don Brokaw has been recruiting the 30 or so employees left at the offices in Temecula to pay approximately $600 (plus $80/mo) to join this “incredible opportunity”. Basically the vast majority of income is a result of recruiting others to join. See below how it’s being represented…click here
For those unfamiliar with 5Linx like I was, here is a screen shot from their site.
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