DENVER — Colorado Attorney General John Suthers announced today that his office has obtained a judgment against American Mortgage Consultants, its owner, Oliver Paul Maldonado (DOB: 12/15/1972), and its principal employee, Santiago Fabian Pineda (DOB: 6/24/1978), barring the company and its officers from engaging in mortgage fraud or any aspect of the mortgage business. American Mortgage Consultants, Maldonado and Pineda will be required under the consent judgment to pay a total of at least $75,000 in fines and restitution to the state.
“The evidence showed American Mortgage Consultants manipulated consumers into believing that the company was affiliated with the federal government and could guarantee that consumers would be able to save their homes,” Suthers said. “In nearly every case, consumers who placed their trust in American Mortgage Consultants found themselves out $2,500 and with nothing to show for it. This judgment and the steep fines Mr. Maldonado and Mr. Pineda owe should serve as a warning to other scammers considering setting up shop in Colorado.”
According to the lawsuit, American Mortgage Consultants used deceptive advertisements to attract approximately 170 consumers to the loan modification company from January 2009 through March 2010. Maldonado also used video of President Barack Obama and materials from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to give consumers the impression that the company was affiliated with the federal government. American Mortgage Consultants did little if anything to help its customers renegotiate or modify their home loans beyond shipping off their applications to an Ohio-based company.
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Consumers facing foreclosure are encouraged 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 your lender at the behest of a loan modification firm. Most lenders have programs that can help you save your home.
- 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.