Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation

 

NEWS
For Immediate Release:
October 28, 2010  
 
 

Mortgage Fraud Task Force Investigation Finds Violations by Mortgage Loan Modification Firms

 

$275,000 in Fines Imposed on Unlicensed Firms

 

CHICAGO –The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) today issued eleven orders to Chicago area companies ordering a stop to illegal and predatory activities of companies allegedly providing loan modification services to homeowners.

“Under Governor Quinn’s direction, the Department has consistently made the protection of vulnerable consumers one of our highest priorities,” said Brent Adams, Secretary of Financial and Professional Regulation. “The mortgage crisis has spawned predators who attempt to take advantage of distressed homeowners under the guise of helping them.  Our actions today should send a message that we will act aggressively to pursue and stop these predators.”

The investigation of four particular companies targeting Chicago’s southwest side, conducted by the Department’s Mortgage Fraud Task Force, was initiated after complaints were filed by the Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, a HUD certified mortgage counseling agency. The counselors of Brighton Park Neighborhood Council found that families were charged thousands of dollars for services that were never rendered, which led them to become ineligible for a loan modification, because a window of opportunity had closed.

“Families struggling to meet their mortgage obligations deserve the best possible advice from loan counselors,” said Mariela Estrada, Housing Organizer at Brighton Park Neighborhood Council. “When several of our clients reported that they felt they had been victims of fraud at the hands of these loan modification companies, we called on IDFPR for assistance.

The companies ordered to cease and desist offering loan modifications without a license and fined $25,000 each are: Opportunity Consultants, Carrey Services, American Accurate Services, Gamez & Associates Ltd., Juan Hernandez, Home Loan Modification, Homeowner’s Advocates Centers, Imperium Realty Group, Mortgage Mitigators, Mi Familia, and Loan Rescue Corp (Click name to see order).

Since 2009, Illinois law has required all individuals and firms that are engaged in the loan modification business to meet the minimum qualifications of a mortgage loan originator and to be licensed by IDFPR.  Two public notifications are posted on the Department’s website www.idfpr.com clarifying the scope of this requirement: “Statement Regarding Loan Modification Services” and “Statement Regarding Attorneys Performing Mortgage Loan Modifications.”  Businesses that offer loan modification services are also prohibited from charging excessive fees or requiring large up-front payments before providing loan modification assistance to their customers.

Homeowners who are interested in a loan modification or are struggling with their mortgage are encouraged to seek outside help.  Free help is available from HUD-approved housing counselors.  A list of HUD-approved housing counselors can be obtained by going to http://www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/sfh/hcc/hcs.cfm or by calling the Department at 1-800-532-8785.

Winner of the 2010 Investigative Excellence Award from the national association of state regulators, the Department’s Mortgage Fraud Task Force (MFTF) was formed in 2006 to investigate and stop mortgage fraud. Since its inception, the MFTF has taken disciplinary action against more than 100 persons and entities and assessed fines in excess of $2 million.