The Washington Post

Man posing as attorney pleads guilty in mortgage-rescue scam

A Virginia Beach man has pleaded guilty to running a fake mortgage-rescue business in Vienna, federal authorities said.

Howard Schmuckler, who entered a guilty plea April 10, could get up to 20 years in prison for each of his six counts of financial fraud via wire communication, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Virginia.

Schmuckler owned and operated a mortgage-rescue business known as The Schmuckler Group while falsely marketing himself as an attorney licensed in Virginia, according to a statement of facts filed as part of the plea agreement. The Schmuckler Group had approximately 1,100 clients, according to its Web site, and falsely claims to have a success rate of 97 percent at modifying the terms of clients’ mortgages Web site, federal officials said.

Based on the site’s misrepresentations, Schmuckler and client recruiters tricked potential clients into signing up for mortgage-rescue services costing anywhere from $2,500 to $25,000, according to court papers. Schmuckler then instructed clients to end contact with their mortgage companies and stop making payments to lenders, court records said. In reality, The Schmuckler Group kept clients’ money but never helped to change the terms of their mortgages.

Schmuckler’s sentencing is scheduled for June 22.


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