The FTC recently obtained a settlement order related to a scam operation originating in the Dominican Republic that bans the defendants from providing mortgage relief services.
The operation, run by Freedom Companies, advertised fake mortgage assistance relief to financially troubled Spanish-speaking homeowners in the U.S. A district court froze the operation in July at the behest of the FTC.
Eight defendants in the suit, including David F. Preiner, Daniel Hungria, Freedom Companies Marketing, Inc., and five other companies controlled by Preiner and Hungria, are prohibited from advertising any future mortgage relief services and making misleading claims about the services they offer.
In its July complaint, the FTC alleged that the defendants violated the FTC Act and Mortgage Assistance Relief Services Rule by promising significantly lower monthly mortgage payments in return for a substantial upfront fee. The complaint also said that the defendants collected more than $2 million in fees over three years but did not provide the advertised services to customers.
The defendants targeted homeowners facing foreclosure, claiming to provide information on federal mortgage relief programs and falsely claiming to be affiliated with lenders and the federal government.
Additionally, the defendants are ordered as part of the settlement to pay $2.39 million for consumer injury, though the judgment will be suspended due to the defendants’ inability to pay after the operation’s remaining assets are seized. If the defendants provided untruthful financial information, they will be required to pay the full amount of the settlement.