Con Artist's Get-Rich-Quick Mortgage Scheme Costs Him His Home

con artistA man who ran a defunct get-rich scheme agreed to settle a court order by paying the Federal Trade Commission $900,000 and surrendering the proceeds from the sale of his house and most of his personal property.

The federal court judgment against John Stefanchik was obtained by the FTC in 2007 for blatantly false claims that his "wealth building" program would teach consumers how to quickly make serious money by buying and selling mortgages.Stefanchik, together with other defendants, telemarketed and sold a package of products and services as part of the "Stefanchik Program," which included course materials, seminars, workshops, video tapes, audio tapes, and personal coaches supposedly designed to teach consumers how to buy and sell privately-held mortgages, commonly known as "paper."

The operation's telemarketers told consumers they could earn huge amounts of money in their spare time, upwards of $10,000 every 30 days, if they purchased the Stefanchik program. All these claims, the FTC said, were lies, and most customers failed to earn a dime.

Victims typically paid $5,000 to $8,000 for the worthless program, but only Stefanchik and his cronies got rich.

As part of the settlement, the FTC will suspend a $17.8 million penalty imposed against Stefanchik by a federal court in 2007, which resulted from a lawsuit the agency filed against him and his company, Beringer Corporation, in 2004. The FTC was also forced to file a complaint in bankruptcy court in December 2009, accusing Stefanchik, his wife, Heidi Fogg, and her company, Warwick Properties LLC, of trying to hide their assets from the judgment.

Under the settlement, the $17.8 million fine will be suspended when Stefanchik pays the FTC $900,000, as well as proceeds from the sale of his personal property and house. If Stefanchik again tries to deceive the FTC about his or his wife's assets, he'll have to pay the whole penalty.

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