Co. Charged for Scamming 118 MN Homeowners
The Minnesota Department of Commerce on Thursday announced that it has charged loan modification firm Save My Home USA Company, Inc., for allegedly scamming 118 Minnesota homeowners out of nearly $290,000.
According to the Commerce Department, Michigan-based Save My Home USA and its owners-Jason McCallum, Justin McCallum, and Chad Buchanan-contacted Minnesota residents and persuaded them to pay fees for loan modification services. In all, 118 homeowners paid $289,020 in fees. And of the 23 homeowners contacted by the Commerce Department, only one person said that they actually received the services they paid for.
Many families allegedly lost $1,000 to $4,000, forcing them deeper into debt and causing them to fall behind on their mortgage payments.
“This is a classic scam by opportunists preying on consumers who are in dire straits with their homes,” Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman said in a statement. “The actions of this company appear to have put desperate homeowners in an even more precarious position than they were to begin with.”
A pre-hearing conference on the case will be held in early May.
According to the Commerce Department, the Save My Home USA case is the most recent in a series of “loan modification scams” that the agency has investigated in the past few months.
For example, the department last month ordered St. Louis Park-based LMS and Associates and its owner Todd Jacobson to each pay a $100,000 civil penalty for deceptive practices and for conducting loan modification activity without a license. The investigation showed that LMS invoiced more than 100 files for a total of roughly $251,000 in fees.
Also in February, the department fined two California companies $10,000 each in civil penalties and banned them from conducting mortgage activity in Minnesota. The two California firms allegedly took more than $12,000 in fees from Minnesota residents.
And in October, Bloomington-based Mortgage Auditors of America (MAA) agreed to pay a $40,000 penalty for deceptive practices-and the company was ordered to reimburse customers for the services it didn't provide. The MAA allegedly collected more than $27,000 in fees through at least 30 cases.
The Commerce Department urges Minnesotans to be vigilant, as these types of mortgage scams appear to be flourishing as fraudsters take advantage of struggling homeowners.
Minnesota residents are encouraged to contact the agency to verify whether companies claiming to offer mortgage services are registered and licensed in the state. Homeowners should also be wary of companies that demand high up-front fees, the department said.
Not all recent real estate scams pertain to loan modification. Fraud schemes have also surfaced recently regarding straw buyers hired to purchase properties, causing lenders to grant loans under false pretenses. For example, two Minnesota brothers pleaded guilty on Wednesday to orchestrating a $4 million fraud scheme through which they defrauded 24 area lenders.