Familiar Names Banned from Selling Mortgage Help

Some familiar names just struck a deal with the Federal Trade Commission.

Four mortgage modification scammers, Brian Pacios, Chad Caldaronello, Justin Moreira and Derek Nelson will be banned from selling debt relief products and services under settlements resolving Federal Trade Commission charges that they deceived homeowners facing foreclosure.

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The settlements stem from a complaint the FTC filed against Pacios, Caldaronello, Moreira, Nelson, Denny Lake, and relief defendant Cortney Gonsalves in 2015, alleging that, doing business as HOPE Services and HAMP Services, they promised consumers help getting their mortgages modified, but instead stole their mortgage payments, leading some to foreclosure and bankruptcy. Pacios’s settlement also resolves an FTC contempt action against him for violating a 2013 court order that prohibited him from mortgage relief activities.

“These rip-off artists took struggling homeowners’ last dollars, but we’ve shut down their destructive and illegal schemes,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Now, in addition to financial judgments, the court has permanently banned them from the industries and practices they exploited.”

Under stipulated court orders announced today, Pacios, Caldaronello, Moreira and Nelson are also prohibited from misrepresenting any product or service, profiting from customers’ personal information, and failing to properly dispose of it. Pacios, Caldaronello, and Moreira are banned from telemarketing, and Pacios and Caldaronello are also banned from selling credit-related financial products and services and barred from using aliases. Moreira and Nelson are also prohibited from using material misrepresentations and unsubstantiated claims to sell financial products and services, and Nelson is barred from telemarketing without maintaining records stipulated in the order.

The orders against Pacios and Caldaronello impose a judgment of more than $2.7 million, which represents the total amount consumers paid. The order against Moreira imposes the same judgment, which will be suspended upon the surrender of certain assets. The full judgment against Moreira will become due immediately if he is found to have misrepresented his financial condition. The order against Nelson imposes a judgment of $859,839, which will be suspended upon the surrender of certain assets, but due immediately if he is found to have misrepresented his financial condition.

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The order against Gonsalves, a relief defendant who profited from the scheme, imposes a judgment of $218,768, which represents the amount Gonsalves received from the scam. Litigation against Lake continues.

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