News 4 Investigates: Scam preys on St. Louisans struggling to pay mortgage

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by KMOV.com Staff

KMOV.com

Posted on July 21, 2014 at 9:08 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jul 22 at 8:13 AM

(KMOV.com) - It's a scam so convincing that it's costing people here in St. Louis their homes.

People struggling to pay their mortgages thought they found a solution, but they had no idea the man offering help was a convicted felon who spent years in prison.

It all started when a Jefferson County couple were roped into an outrageous scheme. They asked their lender, Great Southern Bank, for a loan modification because they were hoping to lower their monthly payments.

"It's not like we were trying to screw anyone over, just trying to lower our house payment" they told News 4.

The couple says the bank wasn't agreeable so they shopped around. They stumbled onto the website for The Federal Mortgage Marketplace (FMM). FMM was a supposed non-profit federal program designed to help struggling homeowners.

The website claimed FMM was #1 in Consumer Reports and that they had helped 12 million homeowners since 1987. A supposed loan officer told them they were approved and even left convincing voicemails. He lowered their monthly payments from $1,800 to $1,400 a month.

They were told to mail their checks to an address in Washington DC, which seemed logical because they thought it was a federal program. The checks were made out to FDC and the fake company even sent paperwork and payment receipts.

News 4 discovered the DC mailing address was a UPS store and we determined the website was actually created in Ft. Lauderdale Florida. And since the Jefferson County couple were mailing their checks to the fake company instead of Great Southern Bank, they were foreclosed on in May.

 News 4 contacted the Federal Trade Commission to see if there was anything that could be done. As it turned out they were already investigating the man behind the scheme: Jonathan Herbert.

Herbert is a felon convicted of cocaine possession, grand theft auto and weapons violations. According to Federal investigators, every aspect of the operation was a lie and Herbert has stolen at least $600,000 from hundreds of consumers. Many of whom ended up losing their homes.

After News 4 presented this evidence to Great Southern Bank, bank officers agreed to postpone the foreclosure until they could review all of the documentation.

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