Nearly 1,500 consumers ripped off by a mortgage loan modification and foreclosure rescue scam will be receiving refund checks from the Federal Trade Commission.
The ringleader of the scam, Bryan D'Antonio, has run afoul of the FTC more than once since 1999 for defrauding consumers and violating court-ordered bans against telemarketing.
Some 1,455 victims of D'Antonio's latest scam,Tax Relief ASAP, will receive checks averaging approximately 24% of their total losses. But that won't be much comfort to victims who lost their homes to foreclosure by falling for his bogus foreclosure rescue scheme.D'Antonio's first run-in with the FTC occurred in 1999, when the agency filed a complaint against him and his company, Data Medical Capital, Inc. for running a work-from home telemarketing scheme. The FTC accused D'Antonio of lying to consumers by promising them incomes of at least $23,400 per year by purchasing his medical billing work-at-home program.
Very few consumers who bought into his work-at-home scheme, the FTC said, were able to generate clients, start a business or earn any money. D'Antonio settled with the FTC in 2001 and was fined more than $600,000 to reimburse his victims. He was also banned for life from marketing business ventures, employment opportunities, work-at-home opportunities and telemarketing.
In 2009, the FTC charged D'Antonio and three of his companies, The Rodis Law Group Inc., America's Law Group Inc., and The Financial Group Inc., doing business as Tax Relief ASAP, of violating the telemarketing ban and misleading homeowners with false claims about their ability to prevent foreclosure.
According to FTC charges, the defendants claimed they were "100% successful and had never lost a customer's home to foreclosure." Tax Relief ASAP also promised struggling homeowners to negotiate with lenders to obtain modified mortgages with lower interest rates, monthly payments, and principal balances.
Few, if any, customers of Tax Relief ASAP ever received the promised loan modifications. Tax Relief ASAP also advised consumers to stop making their monthly mortgage payments and simply pay their fee instead. Unfortunately, many homeowners who fell for the empty promises paid D'Antonio's operation up to $5,500 in advance and ended up losing their homes to foreclosure.
In 2010, at the request of the FTC, a federal judge issued an $11.4 million contempt order against the D'Antonio, The Rodis Law Group, America's Law Group and The Financial Group for running the Tax Relief ASAP scam and violating the 2001 order.
Consumers who receive the checks will have 60 days to cash them before they become void. The FTC never requires consumers to pay money or provide information before redress checks can be cashed. Consumers with questions should call the claims administrator at 1-888-398-8205 or visit www.ftc.gov/refunds.
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