Steven Curtis Lux, the former vice president of sales for Apply 2 Save, a mortgage modification company based in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, paid the State of Idaho $50,000 as part of a settlement agreement. Lux, whose employment with Apply 2 Save was publicized in business journals last year, was suspected of engaging in unlawful and unlicensed mortgage modification activities under the Idaho Consumer Protection Act.
The settlement agreement with Lux prohibits him from engaging in mortgage modification and loan broker activities in the State of Idaho. He paid $45,000 in restitution and $5,000 to reimburse the Attorney General for his fees and costs. The office expects to distribute restitution to eligible consumers later this year.
Attorney General Lawrence Wasden announced the settlement. As a part of Operation Loan Lies, a nationwide sweep of foreclosure rescue companies, Attorney General Wasden, 17 other states and the Federal Trade Commission, announced more than 150 civil, criminal and administrative enforcement actions and investigations of businesses and individuals allegedly involved in unlawful mortgage rescue activities.
“This co-operative enforcement operation has helped eliminate many predators from the mortgage marketplace,” Wasden said. “Foreclosure rescue operators not only take money from desperate homeowners, they also take homeowners’ faith in humanity, their trust in government-sponsored counselors, and, most unfortunately, the very roofs over homeowners’ heads.”
In less than ten months, the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division received approximately 400 complaints against Apply 2 Save. The complaints represent homeowners from all but three states. Wasden suspects thousands of victims remain unaware that Apply 2 Save closed or simply decided not to file a complaint.
On April 20, 2009, the Attorney General filed a lawsuit against Apply 2 Save and its owner, Derek Reed Oberholtzer, for multiple violations of the Consumer Protection Act. Apply 2 Save filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection shortly thereafter. On July 7, 2009, Oberholtzer also filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition. Both Apply 2 Save and Oberholtzer claim to have no assets to pay their creditors.
Wasden encouraged consumers who paid money to Apply 2 Save and have not yet filed a complaint with the Consumer Protection Division to do so. Complaint forms are available on the Attorney General’s website at www.ag.idaho.gov or by calling (208) 334-2424 or (800) 432-3545.
Wasden reminded struggling homeowners that free and reliable assistance is available. HOPE NOW provides helpful information on its website, www.hopenow.com. The Homeownership Preservation Foundation is a network of HUD-approved housing counselors who are trained to help borrowers set up a plan of action directed at their specific situation. Borrowers can access the service by calling (888) 995-HOPE. The service is free. Spanish-speaking counselors are available. The hotline is staffed 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. The Foundation also offers online counseling through its website at www.995hope.org.
The Attorney General also warned homeowners facing financial difficulties to avoid seeking help from anyone who requires an advance fee or who guarantees results. The FTC’s video, “Real People. Real Stories,” features people telling how scammers targeted them and is available in English and Spanish at www.FTC.gov/yourhome and at www.YouTube.com/FTCVideos.