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Feds: Scammers Must Pay For Bogus Mortgage Help

Feb. 5, 2015
Personal Finance
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Men who charged customers hefty fees for bogus mortgage help must surrender assets for it, the federal government announced Thursday.

Acting as Danielson Law Group, Phillip J. Danielson and his partners lured customers into paying $500 to $3,900 to get lawyers to help them avoid foreclosure or negotiate lower mortgage payments, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

The Utah-based company claimed it had a success rate higher than 90% and told customers they’d been pre-screened and were contacted because lawyers with the group thought they could be helped. Many consumers never met with or spoke to an attorney, according to the commission.

“It’s troubling when anyone takes advantage of homeowners in financial distress,” said Jessica Rich, director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection, in a news release. “This scam is particularly offensive because it used an attorney’s legal credentials to create a facade of authenticity.”

Last year, a U.S. district court halted the operation at the FTC’s request.

The FTC imposed a $28.6 million judgement, reflecting the amount of money Danielson Law Group, sometimes acting under other names, took in. But an agreement instead allowed the men to settle by surrendering “certain of their assets,” including a $200,000 house in Utah.

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