From the Star Ledger:
They call themselves “foreclosure rescue” companies, but in many cases they end up enriching themselves while destroying whatever credit-worthiness a distressed homeowner has.
A bill to regulate the industry overwhelmingly passed both the state Senate and Assembly last week and housing and foreclosure experts said it will at least bring some relief to the already daunting task of helping people stay in their homes.
“It’s some of the most egregious kind of predatory lending, the foreclosure rescues,” said Peggy Jurow, who leads the Foreclosure Defense Initiative at Legal Services of New Jersey. She said it can take years to help victims sort through the complicated mass of subsequent lawsuits and paperwork, even if the consultant has been jailed.
“People want to believe that they can get help and they get this card in the mail and it says, ‘I can help you save your home,’” she added. “It’s literally a swindle. This regulates it and puts some bright lines into this practice, which is important.”
There are currently more than 118,000 houses in some stage of foreclosure in New Jersey, and another 55,200 properties that are more than 90 days delinquent on the mortgage, according to LPS Applied Analytics, a real estate data firm.
Last year, Attorney General Paula Dow obtained $17 million in legal settlements through rescue fraud prosecutions, including Hope Now Financial Services and Hope Now Modifications of Cherry Hill, New Hope Modification of Bellmawr, and New Day Financial Solutions of Somerset County, said spokesman Lee Moore. The office continues to investigate similar consumer complaints.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Jersey has also prosecuted several foreclosure rescue fraud cases, and in May U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman announced the guilty plea of Ronald Harris, of Piscataway, who admitted to his role in a scheme that defrauded mortgage lenders of over $10 million, $1.15 million of which Harris personally received.