Under a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, two companies and three individuals are banned from the mortgage relief services business and must relinquish $2.2 million in assets for consumer refunds. The action is part of the FTC’s ongoing effort to stop scams that target financially strapped homeowners seeking mortgage relief.
In November 2009, the FTC alleged that Kirkland Young LLC and its manager, David Botton, misrepresented themselves as consumer mortgage lenders, servicers, or their affiliates, and falsely promised they would modify consumers’ loans and make their mortgage payments more affordable. The court halted the operations and froze the defendants’ assets pending resolution of the case. The following month, the FTC added Botton’s sister, April Botton Krawiecki; their father, Samy Botton; and Attorney Aid LLC as defendants.
In addition to banning the defendants from selling mortgage relief services, the settlement announced today permanently prohibits them from misleading consumers about financial-related goods and services, such as misrepresenting loan or refund terms, affiliation with any person or government entity, and the ability to improve someone’s credit history. The settlement bars the defendants from selling or otherwise disclosing customers’ personal information, enforcing contracts with mortgage relief clients, and violating the Telemarketing Sales Rule. The settlement imposes a $6.1 million judgment that will be suspended when Samy Botton has paid $300,000; David Botton has surrendered certain assets, including a condo, a car, and a boat; April Botton Krawiecki has surrendered a condo; and Kirkland Young LLC and Attorney Aid LLC have surrendered all of their assets, worth $2.2 million.
In addition the named parties are prevented from assisting others with debt relief goods or services, including debt management plans, debt settlement, debt negotiation, and for-profit credit counseling. If the FTC had power over non-profits you better believe they would have added that one as well. But that’s what the CFPB is for.