The Federal Trade Commission has charged a mortgage foreclosure “rescue” operation with falsely promising Spanish-speaking consumers who are behind on their mortgage payments that it would stop foreclosure. Many people who paid the defendants ultimately lost their homes, and others avoided foreclosure only through their own efforts. At the FTC’s request, a federal court temporarily halted the defendants’ practices and froze their assets. The FTC seeks to stop the deceptive claims and obtain consumer redress from the defendants, whom consumers have paid at least $3.3 million.
According to the FTC’s complaint, the defendants enticed consumers with false claims in Spanish-language radio and magazine ads, and during in-person consultations. The defendants charged consumers an up-front fee equivalent to each consumer’s monthly mortgage payment, which was typically in the thousands of dollars. In numerous instances, however, the defendants did not stop foreclosure or obtain mortgage loan modifications.
The Commission charged the defendants with violating the FTC Act by falsely representing that they would obtain mortgage loan modifications or stop foreclosure in all or virtually all instances. The defendants are Dinamica Financiera LLC, Soluciones Dinamicas Inc., Jose Mario Esquer, and Valentin Benitez.
The Commission vote to authorize staff to file the complaint was 4-0. The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on May 19, 2009. The court entered a temporary restraining order on May 20, 2009, halting the defendants’ practices and freezing their assets pending a hearing on whether a preliminary injunction should be entered against the defendants.
NOTE: The Commission files a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. A complaint is not a finding or ruling that the defendants have actually violated the law.
The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,500 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s Web site provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.