FTC: Mortgage Relief Scheme Falsely Touted 'Forensic Audits'

FTC: Mortgage Relief Scheme Falsely Touted 'Forensic Audits'The Federal Trade Commission said Tuesday that it has shut down a mortgage relief scheme that allegedly deceived and targeted homeowners facing possible foreclosure by charging them $2,000 to $4,000 in illegal upfront fees.
The defendants in the case brought by the FTC against three individuals and seven companies did not provide the promised loan modification or help consumers avoid foreclosure, either directly or through the ‘forensic mortgage audits’ they pitched, the agency said.
The temporary restraining order obtained by the FTC shuts down the defendants’ websites, freezes their assets, and provides for appointment of a receiver pending trial.
Three individuals – Ratan Baid, Madhulika Baid, and William D. Goodrich – and seven companies falsely promised lower monthly payments and interest rates, and conversion of adjustable-rate mortgages to fixed ones, the FTC complaint alleged.
Many consumers who called the toll-free numbers were falsely guaranteed a loan modification that supposedly would make their payments more affordable, that they would get results within 60 to 90 days, or that Goodrich, an attorney, would use his impressive legal experience on their behalf, according to the complaint.
The operators allegedly falsely claimed they would provide legal help to save consumers’ homes from foreclosure and lower their mortgage payments.
They then charged up-front fees in violation of federal law, delivering little or no help, and driving them deeper into debt.
The defendants marketed their scheme in a variety of ways, which included using an official looking mailer that implores consumers to act quickly before they “FORFEIT LEGAL RIGHTS,” or face a “statute of limitations and government program deadlines,” according to the FTC.
Here’s a page from the Goodrich Legal Services website operated by the defendants, offering legal services including bankruptcy, loan workouts, bankruptcy and commercial remedies, real estate law, and debt restructuring.
The complaint charges the defendants with violating the Federal Trade Commission Act and with violating the Mortgage Assistance Relief Services Rule, which bans mortgage foreclosure rescue and loan modification services from collecting fees until homeowners have a written offer from their lender or servicer that they deem acceptable.
The complaint also names as defendants Apex Solutions, Inc.; William D. Goodrich, Attorney, Inc.; A to Z Marketing, Inc.; Apex Members, LLC; Backend Inc.; Expert Processing Center, Inc.; and Smart Funding Corp.

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