TOLEDO, Ohio) – Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today announced a lawsuit against N.M.M.S.R. Incorporated, doing business as Making Home Affordable USA, and its owner Jason Keating of Maumee. The lawsuit charges Keating and his business with multiple violations of Ohio's consumer laws.
"Too many consumers have lost thousands of dollars, or even their homes, because of loan modification services that did nothing to help them," DeWine said. "We are continuing to target foreclosure relief businesses that mislead consumers, and we will continue to take action when we find them."
Making Home Affordable USA is located at 120 10th Street in Toledo. It offers loan modification and foreclosure assistance services through its "National Mortgage Modification Stimulus Home Saver Program." Although the business' name and website closely resemble that of the federal government's Making Home Affordable program, Making Home Affordable USA is not associated with the federal government.
According to the Attorney General, the business instructed consumers to stop making their mortgage payments (even if they were current on their payments) and stated that banks and lenders would not negotiate unless consumers were behind on their payments. Consumers paid 60 to 65 percent of their current mortgage payment to the business after the business assured them that the funds would be held in escrow and submitted to their lenders once a modification was reached. Consumers' lenders never received any of the funds placed into the accounts.
Approximately 30 consumers have filed complaints with the Attorney General's Office, the Better Business Bureau, or the Federal Trade Commission. Their losses total around $75,000. Many additional victims likely have been affected.
The lawsuit charges the business and its owner with violations of Ohio's Consumer Sales Practices Act and Telephone Solicitation Sales Act. Specific counts include failure to deliver, encouraging consumers to default on their mortgages, and failing to register as a telephone solicitor. The Attorney General seeks consumer restitution, permanent injunctive relief, and civil penalties.
"Don't trust a business that tells you to stop making your mortgage payment in order to get a modification," DeWine said. "Not only is it bad advice — in Ohio, it's also illegal."
Attorney General DeWine offers consumers the following advice:
* Do not pay up-front fees for help avoiding foreclosure or obtaining mortgage relief. By law, companies are prohibited from charging and accepting fees for mortgage assistance relief services until consumers receive and accept a loan modification offer from their lenders.
* Research a business before providing any money or personal information. Check to see if consumers have filed complaints with the Ohio Attorney General's Office and check a company's reputation with the Better Business Bureau. Don't use a loan modification business that charges upfront fees.
* Contact Save the Dream Ohio if you are having difficulty making your mortgage payments. Call 888-404-4674 or visit www.savethedream.ohio.gov for free foreclosure assistance.
Consumers who believe they have been treated unfairly in any transaction should contact the Ohio Attorney General's Office at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov or 800-282-0515.
A copy of the lawsuit is available on the Ohio Attorney General's website.