The Federal Trade Commission is mailing 862 refund checks totaling more than $533,000 to consumers deceived by a phony mortgage relief scheme allegedly perpetrated by a company called A to Z Marketing, Inc. Starting today, many homeowners who paid for the bogus “service” will receive refunds, with the average check totaling $619.24 and representing 26 percent of the money consumers lost.
According to the FTC’s December 2013 amended complaint, A to Z Marketing and several other defendants operated loan modification schemes, falsely claiming they would provide legal help to save homeowners from foreclosure and lower their mortgage payments. The defendants then charged upfront fees of between $2,500 and $3,500, but delivered little or no help, deepening the financial distress of these homeowners.
The enterprises marketed their scheme online, through telemarketing calls, and with television and radio ads. Their websites deceptively touted a range of services, including bankruptcy advice, credit counseling, and “forensic mortgage audits.” They falsely promised that these audits would uncover any “lending violations” committed by lenders that would help avert foreclosure and lower mortgage payments.
The court order settling the FTC’s charges banned the defendants from advertising, promoting, or selling unsecured debt relief products and services; misrepresenting any material facts related to financial products or services; misrepresenting material facts related to any other types of services; and benefiting from any consumer information they collected through the scheme. It also required them to refund money to defrauded consumers.
Rust Consulting, Inc., the refund administrator for this matter, will begin mailing refund checks today. The checks must be cashed within 60 days, or they will become void. The FTC never requires consumers to pay money or provide information to cash refund checks. Consumers who have questions, or believe that they are entitled to a refund but do not receive one, should call 1-877-506-4034. The administrator will review the requests received, and if money is available, additional consumers may get refunds.
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