More than 1,300 consumers victimized by two related mortgage relief scams will be getting approximately $800,000 as a result of a settlement announced Friday by the federal government.
In one scheme, using the name Precision Law Center, the defendants allegedly made false promises to consumers that if they sued their lenders along with other homeowners in so-called "mass joinder" lawsuits, they could obtain favorable mortgage concessions from lenders or stop the foreclosure process.
The Federal Trade Commission first filed a complaint in March 2012 against Santa Ana, Calif.-based Sameer Lakhany and five companies he controlled. The agency later added three more defendants. Lakhany and defendants Brian Pacios, Precision Law Center Inc., Precision Law Center LLC, National Legal Network Inc. and Assurity Law Group Inc., allegedly collectively referred to themselves as Precision Law Center.
According to the complaint, they charged $6,000 to $10,000 in advance.
In the other scam settled Friday, using names such as FreeFedLoanMod.org, HouseHoldRelief.org and MyHomeSupport.org, the defendants portrayed themselves as nonprofit organizations, charged consumers for "forensic loan audits" and allegedly misrepresented that they could use the results to force lenders to give them better mortgage terms.
The scam also involved Lakhany, as well as defendants The Credit Shop LLC, Fidelity Legal Services LLC and Titanium Realty Inc.. They typically charged consumers between $795 and $1,595.
They told consumers the loan audits would find lender violations 90% of the time or more, and that this would force lenders to give them better mortgage terms. In fact, the complaint alleged that consumers rarely if ever obtained better mortgage terms.