Sunday, April 28, 2013

Ex-Loan Modification Operator With Revoked R/E License Feels Heat For Continuing To Pocket Upfront Fees; Says He's Now Peddling Do-It-Yourself Loan Modification "Packets"

In Sonoma County, California, The Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports:

  • Deanna Reade was in a financial pickle. She and her husband were underwater on their Windsor house when the payments jumped on their interest-only loan by $1,000 a month.

    On the advice of a friend, Reade turned to Petaluma-based Mortgage Modifiers Inc., in the hope of getting a chunk of her debt forgiven and restructuring the loans on her house and an investment condo to make them more affordable.

    But months after paying the company two upfront fees totaling nearly $4,000, nothing had happened, she said. And the banks said they were unaware of any effort to refinance.

    So Reade confronted the company's owner, Miguel Angel Lopez-Soleta, who agreed to a refund. He sent her two checks but they both bounced, she said. That's when Reade concluded she had been ripped off. “He's a scammer,” said Reade, an office accountant. “He got our hopes up and now they are down the toilet.”

    Reade isn't alone.

    The state Department of Justice estimates more than 50 people across the Bay Area may have been defrauded by Lopez-Soleta, 41, and his company, Mortgage Modifiers.

    Nine lawsuits have been filed against Mortgage Modifiers in small claims court, according to court records.

    An investigation is underway into allegations that Lopez-Soleta failed to deliver on promises to negotiate directly with banks on behalf of people in financial distress, Department of Justice spokeswoman Michelle Gregory said.

    Agents raided his home and offices last week, seizing files and computer hard-drives. Lopez-Soleta has not been charged, she said.

    Also, the state is looking into claims that he broke the law by requiring advance fees of $1,995 to perform loan modifications, and was operating with a revoked real estate license, Gregory said. Collection of advance fees was outlawed in 2009 with the passage of SB94.
  • Lopez-Soleta didn't return repeated calls this week to his Ormsby Lane home. He has claimed that he made no promises to clients, but instead provided them with educational information they could use to do their own loan modifications. In court documents, he said he stopped dealing directly with lenders after the law changed.

    But people who claim to be his victims say that's not true.
  • Court documents show Lopez-Soleta's real estate license was revoked in August for professional misconduct, including collection of advance fees.

    He first became licensed in 1993 and opened Mortgage Modifiers in offices on Baywood Drive in 2008. In a six-month period in 2010, the company closed from three to five $1,995 deals per week, the documents said.
For the story, see Petaluma mortgage firm accused of defrauding more than 50 clients.

See also, Feds investigate local mortgage assistance company:
  • “Apparently, Lopez was collecting a fee up front for mortgage restructuring services, which is illegal,” said Department of Justice spokesperson Michelle Gregory. “But he claims he was putting together mortgage packets for people. Some of the complaints are that he didn't put together any packet, others are that he never provided refunds for services he did not perform.”

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