NEW YORK (AP) — The Federal Trade Commission said Tuesday that a group of defendants in Florida have agreed to surrender assets totaling approximately $3.6 million as part of a settlement agreement related to an alleged mortgage relief scam.
The defendants also will be permanently banned from providing mortgage relief and debt relief services to consumers.
In 2012 the FTC charged 11 companies and five people with running an illegal mortgage relief scheme that operated under various names, including Prime Legal Plans. The action was part of the Distressed Homeowner Initiative, a multi-agency federal enforcement crackdown.
The FTC said that the mortgage relief scheme used a fake nonprofit called Reaching U Network and several other companies to lure consumers with false promises that enrollment would save their homes from foreclosure or result in lower mortgage payments. The defendants charged consumers as much as $750 a month in illegal advance fees but offered little or no help.
Aside from alleging that the scheme deceived consumers, the FTC charged that it violated the Mortgage Assistance Relief Services Rule's ban on advance fees for mortgage relief and that the defendants made numerous calls to numbers listed on the national Do Not Call Registry.
The FTC received a court order shutting down the operation and freezing the defendants' corporate and personal assets pending settlement of the case.
A $25.1 million judgment imposed on Derek Radzikowski, Jason Desmond, Prime Legal Plans LLC and five other corporate defendants will be suspended when the defendants surrender an estimated $3.5 million in assets. Desmond's wife, Shelie, must also turn over an estimated $110,000 that she received from the scheme.
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