Nations Housing Modification Center's website actually features an ABC News Nightline report by the Brian Ross Unit on the difficulties facing homeowners trying to modify their loans. The website also showcases testimonials from supposedly satisfied customers, such as "Lilian" from Hawaii who wrote that the company brought her interest rate down from 7.3 percent to 5.2 percent and saved her over $400 dollars a month in housing payments. However, when ABC News contacted "Lilian," she said she never wrote the testimonial and was extremely unhappy with NHMC because the company had done nothing to modify her loan and she was now on the verge of foreclosure.
ABC News has also learned that three of the men running NHMC are well known to law enforcement authorities for their previous activities. Company officials Bryan Rosenberg and Glenn Rosofsky were convicted by federal prosecutors in 2003 of charges connected to a mortgage fraud scheme in Baltimore. Both men received jail sentences for their role in the fraud.
"They pled guilty to a scheme that caused losses of between one-and-a-half and two-and-a-half million dollars at the time," said Dale Kelberman, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney who prosecuted the case. "They have demonstrated in the past that they are not reliable, that they have deceived others in the past, involving real estate transactions, and so I would not give them a lot of credibility," said Kelberman, now an attorney with the Baltimore firm Miles & Stockbridge.
Michael Trap, the president of Nations Housing Modification Center, also has a criminal past. In 2003, Trap pleaded guilty to lying to a federal grand jury in connection with the PinnFund scandal, the largest Ponzi scheme in San Diego history.
When confronted by San Diego affiliate 10News, Trapp refused to answer questions and ordered the cameras out of the building. Click here to view the 10News report.
Late today, NHMC called in a large industrial shredding truck to their offices and was busy destroying boxes of documents.
According to the FTC, homeowners should be wary of any firm that demands an advance fee, guarantees to stop a foreclosure or modify a loan or advises the homeowner to stop paying their loans. The FTC encourages homeowners to contact their lenders directly and ask for a loan modification, and if they require further assistance, they should contact a non-profit, government-affiliated entity such as the Hope Now Alliance.
"The truth of the matter is, there are just a lot of malefactors out there that are using this time of economic distress to go after consumers," said FTC commissioner Leibowitz. "They promise them a lifeline, but they give them only an anchor instead. "
On Thursday, Senate Banking Committee chairman Christopher Dodd (D-CT) called on the Treasury Department to investigate alleged abuses by loan modification companies.
This story has been updated.