The HOPE Services scam told financially distressed homeowners it would help get their mortgages modified, but instead stole their mortgage payments, leading some to foreclosure and bankruptcy.

HOPE Services, and more recently as HAMP Services, targeted people facing foreclosure, and especially those who had failed to get any relief from their lenders. Pretending to be “nonprofit” with government ties, they sent mail bearing what looked like an official government seal, and indicated that the recipients might be eligible for a “New 2014 Home Affordable Modification Program” (HAMP 2).Hope Services Scam

They called the program “an aggressive update to Obama’s original modification program,” and stated that “[y]our bank is now incentivized by the government to lower your interest rate . . .”

They claimed they had a high success rate, special contacts who would help get loan terms modified, and an ability to succeed even when you had failed. After obtaining your financial information, they told you that you were “preliminarily approved” and falsely claimed they would submit a loan modification applications to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America, and the “Making Home Affordable” (MHA) program. The MHA application form they sent to you excluded the page that warns, “BEWARE OF FORECLOSURE RESCUE SCAMS,” and “never make your mortgage payments to anyone other than your mortgage company without their approval.”

Later, they told you that you were approved for a low interest rate and monthly payments significantly lower than your current payment, and that after making three monthly trial payments, and often a fee to reinstate a defaulted loan, you would get a loan modification and be safe from foreclosure. They also told you not to speak with your lender or an attorney.

In reality, homeowners who made the payments did not have their mortgages modified, and their lenders never received their trial payments. Instead, they were contacted by an “Advocacy Department” run by Denny Lake and were told that the department would get them an even better loan modification than the one purportedly obtained through MHA.

But the “Advocacy Department” was just another trick designed to make sure you continued to make all of the monthly trial payments. When you raised concerns about continuing foreclosure warnings, sale date notices, and even court dates, you were told your loan modification was being processed or nearly completed.

By keeping people on the hook for months, the scammers doubled, tripled, or quadrupled trial payments. They told people they would put these payments in escrow accounts and eventually pay off the lenders. In fact, they simply took the money for themselves. As a result, some people lost their homes, and most incurred additional penalties and interest as they fell further behind on their mortgages.

The courts have now shutdown this scam. The scammers include Chad Caldaronello, also known as Chad Carlson and Chad Johnson; C.C. Enterprises Inc., doing business as HOPE Services, Retention Divisions, and Trust Payment Center; Justin Moreira, a/k/a Justin Mason, Justin King and Justin Smith; Derek Nelson, a/k/a Dereck Wilson; D.N. Marketing Inc., d/b/a HAMP Services and Trial Payment Processing; and Brian Pacios, a/k/a Brian Berry and Brian Kelly.

Denny Lake, d/b/a JD United, Advocacy Department, Advocacy Division, and Advocacy Agency, is charged with knowing or consciously avoiding knowing the other defendants were violating the MARS and the TSR. A relief defendant, Cortney Gonsalves, is charged with holding money and assets she received from the scam.

– Source FTC

To learn how to avoid mortgage and foreclosure rescue scams, see Mortgage Relief Scams.