Attorney General announces consumer-protection lawsuit against Colorado loan modification company
DENVER — Colorado Attorney General John Suthers announced today that his office has filed a consumer protection lawsuit against American Mortgage Consultants, its owner, Oliver Paul Maldonado (DOB: 12/15/1972), and its principal employee, Santiago Fabian Pineda (DOB: 6/24/1978), on suspicion that they defrauded consumers seeking loan modifications and foreclosure relief.
According to the complaint, filed in Denver District Court, American Mortgage Consultants used deceptive advertisements to attract approximately 170 consumers to the loan modification company from January 2009 through March 2010. The company and Maldonado are suspected of using deceptive telephone marketing, direct mail, radio advertisements and Web marketing to attract consumers. According to the complaint, Maldonado also used video of President Barack Obama and materials from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to give consumers the impression that American Mortgage Consultants was affiliated with or partnering with the federal government.
Maldonado and American Mortgage Consultants are suspected of charging these consumers $2,500 in upfront fees for its services, which is illegal under Colorado law. According to the complaint, American Mortgage Consultants did little if anything to help its customers renegotiate or modify their home loans beyond shipping off their loan modification applications to an Ohio-based company.
“Consumers should always be suspicious of any guarantees a loan modification company makes about being able to keep you in your home or reduce your loan payments,” Suthers said. “American Mortgage Consultants’ activities were especially troubling because they did virtually nothing for their ‘customers’ beyond taking their money.”
Suthers encouraged consumers facing foreclosure to obtain free help from the Colorado Foreclosure Hotline at 1-877-HOPE (4673) before hiring a company to modify your home loan. If a consumer is still interested in hiring a loan modification company, Suthers encouraged consumers to bear in mind:
- It is illegal in Colorado for a loan modification or renegotiation company to charge you an upfront fee. Loan modification companies can only charge you once their services are completed.
- Consumers should be wary of any company that tells you to stop making your loan payments or to stop working with your lender. Failing to make payments could result in a foreclosure.
- Never ignore communication from your lender at the behest of a loan modification firm. Most lenders have loan modification programs that can help you save your home. In some cases, all a borrower has to do is contact his or her lender and provide some current financial information.
- If a company promises to get rid of your debt, they are making a promise they cannot keep.
- Check out any loan modification company you are considering hiring. The Better Business Bureau maintains ratings of businesses. Any company with an “F” rating should be avoided.
For more information on loan modification companies or other types of foreclosure-rescue firms, visit the Office of the Attorney General’s Mortgage Fraud Information Center.