March 4, 2013 – Benjamin Horton takes exception with comments made by others in response to this article. See update below.
My loan was sold from BAC in January 2012 to Specilized Loan Servicing, LLC. I had tried 3 times to get a modification with BAC first myself, 2 with National Debt Solution in CA scram, 3 with Derrick Bradshow in Dallas,TX called his company D-Mortage scram. Now I have asked Modification Review Board in Sandy, UT. They are asking for money in order to go head working for me. At time I don’t have the money but was going to get it out of my retirement again. I don’t know what to do. Please give some advice.
How can I tell if Modification Review Board, in Sandy, UT is for legal?”
I took a look at their website at modificationreviewboard.com.
Are they legal or legit?
What I can tell you is the company, Modification Review Board, LLC was registered on October 26, 2011 with the State of Utah.
The domain name was originally registered by:
Brown Legal, Inc.
Sandy, Utah 84092
Brown Legal, Inc. was registered with the State of Utah on April 5, 2011 and the registered agent is Jonathan Phillip Hanley. I did a search for a lawyer in Utah named Jonathan Hanley and according to the Utah State Bar, there is no attorney under that name. You can check for yourself, here.
The BBB reports that Jonathan Hanley is the company contact for Brown Legal, Inc and describes the company as a legal document services company. – Source
What is a bit perplexing to me is the domain name for Brown Legal is brownlegalcorp.com and results in a similar, nearly identical website, but with a different name. it reports to be located at the same office address:
9035 S. 700 E.
Sandy, UT 84070
And if you look at the Brown Legal site, named Preferred Law Team (Source), and compare it to the Modification Review Board site, the wording appears the same.
Maybe it makes more sense at this point for you to contact a free HUD Housing Counselor and ask for a review of your situation in your evaluation of what to do. Does that seem reasonable?
Please post your responses and follow-up messages to me on this in the comments section below.
I have received the following nastygram from Benjamin Horton, Attorney for Preferred law.
Dear Mr. Steve Rhode:
I have just been made aware that your website (http://getoutofdebt.org/35930/is-modification-review-board-in-sandy-utah-legit) is wrongfully publishing our law firm’s copyrighted material without our permission. Furthermore, your website has placed Modification Review Board, LLC and our law firm in a false light and is damaging our law firm’s legitimate business and reputation. We demand that you remove all material related to Preferred Law, PLLC and Modification Review Board, LLC from your website immediately.
Although Preferred Law, PLLC is willing and able to bring a lawsuit against you, it is not our intent to escalate the matter further. For your information, Preferred Law, PLLC places great emphasis on copyright infringement and business litigation. See http://www.preferredlawoffice.com/copyright-law/.
With respect to the accusations on your website, Modification Review Board does temporarily share some of the content with one of our Preferred Law, PLLC websites. Modification Review Board, LLC has its own attorney and paralegals, and often works with our law firm in assisting homeowners with federal home loan assistance. Because professional websites are very expensive to develop, we reached an agreement to temporarily share website content until much better websites could be developed. Our new websites are almost complete and will be published within one to two weeks. We certainly provide a legitimate service to our clients and have many satisfied clients.
Please remove all of the above materials without delay. We genuinely hope to resolve this matter amicably and without litigation. However, should you continue to publish the same, we will quickly bring a lawsuit against you and demand substantial damages. Govern yourself accordingly.
Benjamin R. Horton
Attorney at Law
Member of the Utah and Texas Bars
Dear Mr. Horton,
I received your email and have published it as an update to the story so readers can hear your side.
I’ve addressed your issues below:
Copyright infringement for use of the screen shots. The use of the limited screen shots falls under the exception under the copyright statues of fair use. “Section 107 contains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered fair, such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.” The use of the screen shots appears to fall squarely under that exception.
Alleged accusations made. In looking at the article I do not see any accusations made against Preferred Law. What I do see are questions raised.
You’ve responded to one of them. You have said that Preferred Law and Modification Review Board share some content, which is exactly what I observed and reported about using the screen shots as an example to show readers.
There were some questions raised in the article that you did not address. For example, the domain name for Modification Review Board appears to be registered to Jonathan Hanley at Brown Legal but I could not locate an attorney in Utah under that name. Is Mr. Hanley an attorney? If not, who is the attorney of record for Modification Review Board that you’ve authorized to use your legal website content? Or is is you that has been authorized to use the content created and copy written by Brown Legal?
As far as Preferred Law is concerned it appears the only questions raised was why it appeared that you were using the same business address and website as Modification Review Board.
I raised the observation that the websites appeared to use similar content, which you state is true in your correspondence. But you did not address the other issue raised about Preferred Law that it appears you are sharing the same business address.
But in your letter I see the address on your website and letterhead is different. The website says:
9035 S. 700 E.
Sandy, UT 84070
Your letterhead says:
8180 S. 700 E
Sandy, Utah 84070
So which is the correct address, the letterhead or your website?
Also interesting is that the domain name of brownlegalcorp.com results in the website for Preferred Law. The BBB describes Brown Legal as a legal document services company but not a law firm. – Source
Brown Legal, Inc was registered to do business in Utah on April 5, 2011. and the registered agent is Jonathan Hanley.
As I mentioned, I can’t locate an attorney in Utah under the name Jonathan Hanley. If he is an attorney, please let me know. I want to make sure the information reported is factual.
And if there is something that I got factually wrong in the story or there is anything you would like to publicly comment on, please feel free to add a comment onto the post so readers can hear from you directly.
Regarding your threat to sue, if you wish to escalate this matter further, please contact my attorney at:
Chris Livingston, Esq.
PO Box 220
White Oak NC 28399
Tel 910 876 7001
I have copied him on this email.
Update March 4, 2013
Benjamin R. Horton, Attorney
8180 S700 E STE 110
Sandy, UT 84070
This e-mail is a follow-up to our phone conversation on February 28, 2013. Although it was shocking that you seemed to want us to bring a lawsuit against your client, I am still hopeful that we can resolve this matter reasonably and without resorting to litigation.
Steve Rhode has included deliberately misleading and other defamatory materials on his website http://getoutofdebt.org regarding my client Modification Review Board that must be removed.
First, Steve Rhode made the following comment under the heading: “Is Modification Review Board in Sandy Utah Legit?” (http://getoutofdebt.org/35930/is-modification-review-board-in-sandy-utah-legit):
“SALT LAKE CITY—Federal law enforcement agencies executed search warrants Tuesday at three locations associated with a business formerly operating under the name “CC Brown Law Office” in Midvale and West Valley City. The business has also operated under other names, including “Sentry Legal,” “WT Lee,” and “JL Martin.” The search warrant is sealed. No criminal charges have been filed in connection with the investigation.Individuals who have been working with the business on a mortgage modification and who would like information can contact a toll-free number established by the FBI at 1-877-236-8947 (press option 2). The toll-free number will be activated this evening. A recorded message will advise individuals that they can submit contact information and copies of any documents to the FBI by mailing them to the FBI Salt Lake City Division, attention CC Brown Investigation. The FBI’s address is 257 East 200 South, Suite 1200, Salt Lake City, UT 84111.Individuals can also submit information about the company’s business practices to the FBI by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
By intentionally publishing this information under the name of Modification Review Board, it is clear that Mr. Rhode is maliciously implying that Modification Review Board has a relationship to CC Brown Law Office and/or is being investigated by the F.B.I. This is entirely false. Mr. Rhode has deliberately taken irrelevant information concerning an unrelated business and investigation and included that information under the name of Modification Review Board in order to unfairly defame Modification Review Board.
The comment I posted was just a mention of mortgage modification company also located in Utah that was in the news from an FBI press release. It was not meant to infer there was any relationship between Modification Review Board or Preferred Law and CC Brown. If it was taken that way it was not intentional and I have removed that comment to avoid any confussion.
Second, an individual under the name of “Modification Review Board Scam,” following up on Mr. Rhode’s falsely included information above, made the following two false comments:
The comments by the other parties were actually not “follow up” or replies. They were stand alone comments.
“I am reporting that your correct about modification review board in sandy utah being a mortgage modification scam. Jonathan Hanley is wanted by the FBI in relation to a criminal “mortgage modification” investigation under the name of CC Brown in Utah. He left that fraud firm to start a new one, and his website and everything you mentioned is all a scam. He is charging customers upfront fees of $3900 for a modification, he guarantees the modification but then leaves the customer who paid the fee with almost zero work. He advises them to stop making their mortgage payments and he has taken advantage of 1000’s of people while he takes all of their money. In some cases he charges a “emergency fee” of an additional $1000 up front if the person’s house is in foreclosure promising to stop the foreclosure, but doesn’t.
Due to the law that a person cannot charge up front fees unless they are a law firm, he circumvents it by paying a friend of his who is a lawyer, that is not employed by modification review board an amount for each customer so that he can “pretend” he is a law firm and even represents himself as a law firm. He has been reported to the FBI and they are currently investigating him. So I thought you would like to know that you were correct.
His website is phoney, he runs a make shift operation with people who are criminals and avoids paying taxes. He takes advantage of old people who have nowhere to turn and the body count is starting to add up. I would appreciate that you would keep this message confidential. You are welcome to broadcast it as much as you like without printing what I have written in here. Someone needs to get the word out. I have contacted everyone that needs to know about this and I am in the process of contacting the BBB and filing a bar complaint about the lawyer he is involved with. Thanks.”
“I just looked at your website and saw the reply to your allegations by the lawyer Benjamin Horton where he threatens to sue you by defaming modification review board, and he states that modification review board has its own lawyer and they work together sometimes is a complete lie. He states…
“With respect to the accusations on your website, Modification Review Board does temporarily share some of the content with one of our Preferred Law, PLLC websites. Modification Review Board, LLC has its own attorney and paralegals, and often works with our law firm in assisting homeowners with federal home loan assistance.
Mod Review Board does not have a lawyer except Ben Horton and Jon Hanleys father. If they did why did that lawyer not threaten you? He was too busy so Ben had to do it? So you can prove that one easily by asking what the lawyers name is. They won’t be able to provide one. So let me know if you have any questions. Thanks.”
Again, these accusations are entirely false. Although these comments seem to have been written by an unknown person, it is apparent that the individual is only building on Mr. Rhode’s previous misleading information regarding CC Brown in his malicious and false attempt to imply a relationship. In other words, Steve Rhode started the false rumor and has now allowed other deceitful competitors to surreptitiously build on Mr. Rhode’s false information without facing any liability for defamation. I don’t believe Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act will shield Mr. Rhode from liability in these circumstances.
We are demanding that your client remove the offending three comments (quoted above) within seven days from the date of this e-mail. Although you seemed to indicate that your client was not interested in resolving this matter outside of the courts, I do not believe it will be in your client’s best interest to hale him into court either here or in North Carolina. Although I prefer to resolve this dispute amicably, if the offending materials are not removed within seven days from the date of this e-mail, we will file a lawsuit against Mr. Rhode and the Myvesta Foundation for substantial damages. Thank you.
~ Benjamin Horton