RALEIGH, N.C. (Legal Newsline) -- North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper on Monday announced the shuttering of a Charlotte loan modification business that claimed to help people save their homes from foreclosure but allegedly failed to deliver.

Cooper sued Lender Exchange in September for allegedly charging illegal advance fees for mortgage loan modification services and allegedly failing to provide individuals with meaningful help.

In North Carolina, it is illegal to charge an upfront fee for loan modification or foreclosure assistance services.

"Loan modification scams convince people to waste valuable time and money that could be better spent getting real help to avoid foreclosure," Cooper said in a statement. "Never pay money upfront for foreclosure help."

Under the terms of a consent judgment, Lender Exchange and its owners, Tanya Wilson and Kenneth McCurd, are permanently banned from conducting any foreclosure assistance, loan modification or debt relief services in the state.

The owners must pay $4,000 in refunds to consumers who filed a complaint. If the defendants violate the judgment, they must pay an added $58,000.

Cooper's office received more than 1,200 consumer complaints in the last five years related to loan modification and foreclosure assistance schemes, and won judgments of more than $1.6 million from foreclosure scammers, including refunds for scheme victims.

In North Carolina, free help for dealing with foreclosure is available from the state's Home Foreclosure Prevention Project.

"We all benefit when people are able stay in their homes," the attorney general said. "Homeowners who are struggling to stay afloat can get free, legitimate help instead of falling for a scam."

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