Like most every crisis, the foreclosure crisis has brought out its share of scam artists. In this case, the biggest scam artists are the banks themselves. But you have a number of penny-ante thieves working below the surface. Some people identify themselves as “foreclosure specialists” and promise to help borrowers secure a loan modification for a fee. Others claim to be lawyers who can help a family avoid foreclosure. Typically they take the fees and do nothing to help the situation. They operate across the country, particularly in high-foreclosure areas. In states like Florida and California, the fraud problem has become so pervasive that state laws have been written to stop the scams. One scam – the scam by the banks – is enough.
Apparently, potential Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee is working with one of these mortgage fraudsters.
Fox News personality and former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR) recently began appearing in television commercials calling for viewers to dial a 1-800 number to sign a repeal petition against health reform called “Repeal It Now.” The ad, a “project of Restore America’s Voice” (RAV), a political action committee run by Huckabee’s friend Ken Hoagland, also directs viewers to a website that solicits donations [...]
According to disclosures filed with the FEC, RAV’s campaign is managed by a firm called the 949 Media Group. 949 has been paid tens of thousands of dollars to set up RAV’s website and Google search optimization, and receives a regular commission of $10,000 for related media work from RAV. ThinkProgress spoke to a representative from RAV, who told us that 949 is run by an individual named Derek Oberholtzer. According to the representative, Oberholtzer has worked with RAV since the PAC formed in October.
Oberholtzer is well known as scam artist who has used a myriad of tricks to defraud people out of their money. In addition to 949 Media Group, he started a number of companies, including “Apply 2 Save” (A2S) and Giant Media Works. Consumer report websites are rife with complaints about Oberholtzer’s odious business practices. In one scheme, Oberholtzer paid for radio and other advertisements telling distressed homeowners to contact his company A2S to pay a flat $595 fee to receive assistance in renegotiating their loans or to block a bank foreclosure. The Federal Trade Commission has prosecuted Oberholtzer for deceptive practices. In numerous cases, Oberholtzer took the $595 payment, and never did anything to stop a foreclosure or even contact the mortgage company in question. In many instances he continued billing his customers further fees totaling nearly $1,000 without lifting a finger to actually renegotiate their mortgage or halt a foreclosure, as his “Apply 2 Save” company promised.
Think Progress dug up multiple stories of Oberholtzer’s company Apply 2 Save engaging in mortgage fraud. This is such obvious stuff that even states like Idaho have successfully prosecuted Oberholtzer in civil court and banned him from doing business in the state.
This kind of low-level grifting is nothing new for the right; for some, it’s practically their business model. And I’ve noticed a lot of these scam artists revolving around Huckabee. If you think of the Republican Party as an infomercial, Huckabee is the past-their-prime host looking wide-eyed into the camera about the latest product innovation. Absolutely no one in a position of power should be in any business relationship with a thief who preys on foreclosure victims. It’s completely heartless.