A series of public service announcements (PSAs) was launched Tuesday by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to reach consumers owed payments related to harm they experienced through a home-loan modification scam involving Siringoringo Law Firm and its associates.
The CFPB said Siringoringo Law Firm, Stephen Lyster Siringoringo, Clausen & Cobb Management Company, Inc., and Joshua Cobb were involved in a scam under which consumers paid fees from July 22, 2011, through July 26, 2013, on the expectation they would be able to obtain home loan modifications.
The bureau filed a suit against the firm in 2014. As explained in a press release Tuesday, the bureau alleged that the defendants, who offered home-loan modifications, asked for and received fees from consumers before the consumers had entered into loan-modification agreements with their lenders or loan servicers. “The defendants misrepresented aspects of their services including the likelihood that they would obtain loan modifications on behalf of consumers, and defendants failed to make disclosures required by law,” it said. “The Bureau alleged that this conduct violated Regulation O, formerly known as the Mortgage Assistance Relief Services (MARS) Rule.”
The payments due to harmed consumers are being made through the CFPB’s Civil Penalty Fund, which is used to make payments to consumers who were harmed by a violation for which civil penalties were imposed and who aren’t otherwise expected to get full compensation for their compensable harm. The bureau began mailing checks on Aug. 14 to eligible consumers who paid illegal upfront fees to the defendants, according to information published on the bureau’s website.
In this particular scam, the CFPB alleged, the defendants’ operation charged initial fees ranging from $1,995 to $3,500, in addition to monthly fees of $495, to thousands of California homeowners in distress. The complaint alleged that Clausen, Cobb, and CCMC managed, staffed, and supported the deceptive loan modification operations of Stephen Siringoringo’s southern California law firm. The State Bar of California initially referred the misconduct to the CFPB.
This scam against distressed homeowners was one of several targeted in suits filed in 2014 by the CFPB (then led by its former director, Richard Cordray), Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and 15 states.