California judge bans ‘sham mortgage relief operation,’ issues $19M penalty

Key Takeaways:

– Home Matters USA, described as a mortgage relief scam, has been ordered to pay $19 million in consumer refunds and civil penalties.
– The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI) brought the case against Home Matters USA.
– The defendants were accused of misleading consumers and charging them thousands of dollars for false promises related to mortgage loan modifications.
– The operators of Home Matters USA have been banned from the telemarketing and debt relief businesses.
– This case marks the first joint effort between the FTC and DFPI.
– The ruling sends a message to scammers targeting financially struggling consumers.
– The DFPI was established in 2020 to serve as a more robust regulatory body in California.
– The DFPI aims to protect consumers from predatory and abusive financial products.

HousingWire:

A judge in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California has ordered that the operators of Home Matters USA — described as a “mortgage relief scam” by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI) — be banned from the telemarketing and debt relief businesses, and ordered them to pay $19 million in consumer refunds and civil penalties.

The FTC and DFPI originally brought the case against the parties in September 2022, alleging that they operated “a sham mortgage relief operation that misled consumers and cost them millions.”

The case was the first to be brought jointly by the FTC and DFPI. The government bodies alleged that the defendants “charged consumers thousands of dollars with false promises they would negotiate with consumers’ mortgage lenders to alter their loans, at times even representing they were affiliated with government COVID-19 relief programs.”

They sued the companies doing business as Home Matters USA, Academy Home Services, Atlantic Pacific Service Group and Golden Home Services America, along with owners Michael R. Nabati, Armando Solis Barron, Dominic Ahiga (aka Michael D. Grinnell) and Roger S. Dyer.

“Our win in this case sends a clear message to scammers who target consumers facing financial hardship: the FTC and our law enforcement partners are focused on fighting fraud and halting it,” Samuel Levine, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in an announcement of the verdict. “We look forward to more opportunities to partner with the California DFPI on behalf of consumers.”

DFPI Commissioner Clothilde Hewlett added that the ruling reinforces the value of California’s Consumer Financial Protection Law.

“Fraudsters everywhere should take note — DFPI will find you, expose you, and hold you accountable,” she said in a statement. “Victims of fraud should likewise take heart. The DFPI has your back.”

The DFPI was established in 2020 by a package of bills signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom, which aimed to reform the state’s Department of Business Oversight (DBO) and convert it into the DFPI.

At the time, Newsom said that the aim of the state agency was to serve as a more muscular regulatory body in light of a more relaxed enforcement posture by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) during the Trump administration.

“While the federal government is getting out of the financial protection business, California is leaning into it,” Newsom said when announcing the bills’ signings. “It’s at this moment especially — when so many Californians are strapped for cash and struggling to pay their bills — that families are likely to fall victim to predatory and abusive financial products. These bills ensure that financial predators are subjected to alert oversight and agile enforcement.”

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Property Chomp’s Take:

is a commonly used element in HTML that stands for “division” or “divider.” It is a container that allows web developers to group and organize different sections of a webpage. This versatile element can be used to create layouts, style content, and apply CSS properties. In this article, we will discuss the importance and functionality of the

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The recent case involving Home Matters USA, a mortgage relief scam, highlights the significance of regulatory bodies like the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI) in protecting consumers from fraudulent activities. The operators of Home Matters USA were found guilty of deceiving consumers and costing them millions of dollars. The judge’s ruling in this case has resulted in a ban on the operators from the telemarketing and debt relief businesses, as well as the requirement to pay $19 million in consumer refunds and civil penalties.

The FTC and DFPI jointly brought this case against Home Matters USA, Academy Home Services, Atlantic Pacific Service Group, and Golden Home Services America, along with their owners. The defendants were accused of misleading consumers by promising to negotiate with their mortgage lenders to alter their loans, often claiming affiliation with government COVID-19 relief programs. This case exemplifies the commitment of regulatory bodies to combat fraud and protect consumers from financial hardship.

The DFPI, established in 2020, was created to strengthen consumer financial protection in California. This agency, formed as part of a legislative package signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom, aims to provide robust oversight and enforcement in light of a more relaxed enforcement posture by the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) during the Trump administration. The DFPI’s involvement in this case demonstrates its dedication to finding and holding fraudsters accountable, while also advocating for victims of fraud.

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element plays a crucial role in structuring content and applying styling to enhance the overall user experience on websites. By understanding the functionality and versatility of the

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