Last week our David Rosenfeld used the story of Horatio Bernard, an immigrant from Liberia, to outline the trajectory of the subprime crisis.
Mr. Bernard, in hoping to find solace in the federal HOPE for Homeowners program, instead, and inadvertently, tapped into the private New Hope Modifications, one of a number of private efforts — usually with hope in their names — that offer sketchy efforts to rescue homeowners facing foreclosure.
We say "sketchy" to be charitable — Mr. Bernard is now out thousands of dollars he couldn't afford to fritter away, and is squatting in the row house to which he once held the deed. And we say "sketchy" with greater assurance because New Jersey's attorney general, Ann Milgram, last week sued New Hope — along with Hope New Financial Services and Casey Properties LLC for alleged mortgage fraud.
Milgram's complaint claims that New Hope and its principals "Donna Fisher and Brian Mammoccio are causing irreparable harm to consumers by falsely promising to provide free consultations to distressed homeowners; falsely promising to modify mortgages and prevent foreclosures; and by operating an unlicensed debt adjustment business in the State of New Jersey."
In addition, "Despite promising free consultations, Defendants demand an up-front free and then often make no attempt to engage in mortgage modification services. Moreover even when Defendants do make an effort to modify the consumers' mortgages, they are unable to do so and are thus selling a service that they know they cannot provide."
Ouch! And David is still waiting to hear back from New Hopes' CEO, Mr. Mammoccio, about an interview.
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