Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Founder Of Outfit That Purports To "Specialize In Grammar Fraud" In Effort To Peddle Mortgage-Voiding Services Gets Pinched, Faces Multiple Felony Charges

In Lake Havasu City, Arizona, Havasu News reports:
  • Until this month, Leighton L. Ward helped customers throughout the U.S. – just ask the authors of more than a half-dozen anonymous testimonials posted on his website.

    Ward is the founder of the Advocacy for Consumer Rights, which advertised itself as a means for customers to assess their respective mortgage contracts, and determine if those contracts may have been misleading or predatory. “We specialize in grammar fraud,” reads one of the banners of the company’s web page. On May 4, Ward himself was arrested in Northern California on charges of “regular” fraud.

    The Lake Havasu City Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Unit this January began an investigation into Ward’s business, after receiving reports of an alleged fraudulent scheme involving mortgage contracts.

    According to LHCPD officials, Ward’s alleged scheme was elaborate. The police department alleges that Ward posed as an associate of the Advocacy for Consumer Rights, and offered to assist Havasu residents in escaping the binding terms of their respective mortgage contracts. For thousands of dollars, the department says, Ward promised to get mortgage customers’ money refunded to them based on the language of their mortgage contracts.

    The Better Business Bureau received complaints of alleged fraud by the organization as early as August 2016. The BBB’s website, which lists ratings and reviews for local businesses, received one positive review; and five customer complaints about the Advocacy for Consumer Rights.

    According to one such anonymous complaint, a customer was first approached by Ward’s business. The Advocacy for Consumer Rights allegedly informed the complainant that a “whistleblower” had accused the complainant’s current lender of mortgage fraud, and offered services at the cost of $3,400 in advance to help him gain a settlement from his lender.

    Ward allegedly told the complainant that he had posted a lien against his lender for fraud, and further told the complainant that as the result of a settlement in civil court, the complainant’s mortgage had been paid in full.

    According to the review, the complainant received authentic-looking court documents courtesy of the Department of Justice Civil Division’s Torts Branch. The complainant became suspicious when he noted that the documents were sent from a P.O. box. The complainant contacted the Department of Justice, who confirmed that the P.O. box was not used or owned by the department.

    The complainant contacted his lender, who confirmed that a settlement had never been reached in reference to the complainant’s mortgage.

    “The house has not been forgiven like we were told. We have yet to see any settlement,” the 2016 complaint said. “What we have now is close to foreclosure.”

    Ward remains in custody in California, pending extradition to Arizona. Ward will face multiple felony charges, according to LHCPD, including fraud, fraudulent schemes and artifices, theft and forgery.

    The department also says Ward is under investigation by other state and federal agencies for similar complaints nationwide, and there is an active felony warrant for Ward’s arrest in Tennessee for similar accusations.

    The police department has identified multiple alleged victims in the case, and anyone with additional information is encouraged to contact LHCPD Detective Brian Madsen at (928) 855-1171.
Source: Law enforcement arrest man on fraud charges in Northern California (Extradition to Arizona for similar felony charges pending; other states investigating).

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