TRENTON, N.J. (Legal Newsline) - New Jersey Attorney General Paula Dow has announced an agreement with a New Jersey loan modification company and its owners to pay $11.45 million to settle civil charges of defrauding homeowners who sought mortgage foreclosure help.
"This is an important outcome, one that should send a clear message to anyone who may be tempted to seek profit in the financial misery of others during these tough times," Dow said. "We are committed to identifying and investigating this type of fraud, and we will take appropriate action where we find it."
New Hope Property LLC of Bellmawr, N.J., will pay $10 million to settle allegations that New Hope Modifications, its company, accepted money from customers up front in return for promised mortgage rescue help. New Jersey prohibits such a business. New Hope is also permanently barred under the settlement from selling debt adjustment, loan modification or foreclosure relief services in New Jersey.
Brian Mammoccio, a registered agent of New Hope in New Jersey, agreed to pay a $1.2 million judgment that settles allegations levied against him and consented to the revocation of his mortgage solicitor's registration. Mammoccio also agreed to never again apply for any license, registration or authority from the state Department of Banking.
Donna Fisher, who was also identified as a registered agent of New Hope, will pay $250,000 to the state and consented to revocation of her individual lender's license and her mortgage solicitor's registration. Fisher also agreed to never again apply for any license from the Department of Banking.
"This company, and these individuals, made money by selling false hope to trusting people during their darkest financial hour," Dow said. "It is appropriate that their professional licenses are revoked, and that they will never again be permitted to operate in our state."
The state's original four-count lawsuit, filed in March 2009 in New Jersey Superior Court in Camden County, charged New Hope with violations of the Consumer Fraud Act, state advertising regulations and the Debt Adjustment and Credit Counseling Act.
The lawsuit charged New Hope with taking substantial up-front payments and failing to deliver any services as well as engaging in unlicensed debt adjustment activities in New Jersey since 2007. New Hope was also alleged to have fraudulently sought to generate consumer confidence by creating the impression that it was associated with the Hope Now Alliance, a nationally-respected, non-profit foreclosure prevention program.
The state's lawsuit charged New Hope with failing to return payments to clients seeking refunds after they realized they were not getting mortgage rescue help. The lawsuit also sought to shut down New Hope's Web site that offered its loan modification services. The Web site has since been permanently shut down following the closing of New Hope LLC and New Hope Modifications' operations.