On the heels of a statewide campaign alerting the public to foreclosure-related scams, the Minnesota Commerce Department took action against unlicensed, California-based loan modification companies Thursday.
The department sent cease-and-desist orders to Ronald LeClair of Bank Modifications and Ernest J. Bartlett of Reorg.org. Both promised homeowners loan modifications and charged upfront fees of $1,000 to $3,000. It's illegal to offer loan modifications without a residential mortgage originator license and to charge an upfront fee for such modifications.
Steven Fattorusso of USA Loan Auditors, also known as Relief Law Center, allegedly offered a Minnesota resident a loan modification, claiming the homeowner's current mortgage company was being investigated for predatory lending and offering assistance, the Commerce Department said.
The company sent ads to consumers that made it look as though it was somehow affiliated with the government. The company has caught the attention of regulators in several states. A hearing to show cause has been scheduled for Fattorusso on Aug. 12.
The Minnesota department has taken more than 50 enforcement actions against mortgage-related businesses in 2010.
Consumers who are being contacted by companies offering loan modifications should visit: www.lookbeforeyouleap.org, or call 1-888-995-4673.