A San Diego businessman pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court, admitting that he duped hundreds of struggling homeowners into paying for loan modifications that never happened.

According to his plea agreement, Steven Lamont and his co-conspirators marketed and sold loan modification services to homeowners under a variety of company names, including Advanced Loan Processing, American Home Consultants, Leverage Capital Inc., Liberty Home Capital, Lincoln Home Company and United Services Group.

Over a period of several years, Lamont’s businesses induced more than 700 people to pay more than $2.4 million in total for services they never received.

“The FBI will continue to aggressively pursue individuals who engage in fraud that victimizes the American homeowner,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric Birnbaum. “The FBI cautions all homeowners who seek to modify their home loans to be thorough in their research to avoid fraudsters like Steven Lamont.”

Lamont, 54, admitted that he operated a group of telemarketers whose job was to recruit new clients. He trained the telemarketers and wrote scripts for them to use during calls with potential clients.

According to court documents, Lamont trained telemarketers to claim falsely that the companies had the highest success rate in the industry, that they had a team of certified auditors on staff, and that they had been operating for the past 10 years.

Lamont also instructed telemarketers to falsely promise potential clients that they would receive their money back if the company was unable to negotiate a loan modification.

Despite paying between $1,000 and $7,000 for a loan modification, most dissatisfied customers never received the help they requested. Although clients were not getting loan modifications, the telemarketers were encouraged to keep selling.

Lamont tried to conceal his crimes from law enforcement and shield himself from customer complaints by putting the companies into the names of others. After learning, however, that the companies were being investigated by law enforcement, company employees rented a U-Haul trailer, filled it with the companies’ documents, and burned the documents in a remote location, according to charging documents.

Lamont is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 23.

–City News Service

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