Scammers Banned from Mortgage Business following FTC Complaint

Scammers Banned from Mortgage Business following FTC Complaint
Image: Pexels
December 15, 2015

Several mortgage scammers have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charges that they deceived homeowners facing foreclosure.

Four mortgage modification scammers, Brian Pacios, Chad Caldaronello, Justin Moreira and Derek Nelson will be banned from selling debt relief products and services and required to pay civil penalties.

The settlements stem from a 2015 FTC complaint filed against Pacios, Caldaronello, Moreira, Nelson, Denny Lake, and relief defendant Cortney Gonsalves, alleging that, doing business as HOPE Services and HAMP Services, they promised consumers help getting their mortgages modified. Instead they 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.

Under the court orders, 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.

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.