Mortgage loan scheme charges for Va. man
A Prince George's County grand jury has charged a Virginia Beach man with swindling 10 people out of about $40,000 in a loan modification scheme.
Howard Shmuckler, 67, is charged with 10 counts of theft over $500, conspiracy to commit theft, and 10 violations of operating a credit business without a license, State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey said.
At a news conference outside the Upper Marlboro courthouse, Ivey said Shmuckler preyed on people who desperately wanted to lower their mortgage payments to keep their homes.
"This is a case about an effort to steal the American Dream from hard-working families," Ivey said. Shmuckler's victims did not obtain the loan relief they were seeking, and some lost their homes, officials said.
Efforts to reach Shmuckler were unsuccessful. Three phone numbers listed in his name or the name of his business are no longer in service. Officials said they did not know whether Shmuckler had an attorney.
Shmuckler was released after an initial court appearance.
Ivey was joined at the news conference by Christy Moreno, chief of staff for the Office of Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), and Mark Kaufman, commissioner of financial regulation for the state of Maryland.
Officials said Shmuckler targeted Hispanic homeowners, in part through ads on Spanish-language radio. Shmuckler claimed he would negotiate lower mortgage payments -- in exchange for thousands of dollars up-front, officials said.
It is illegal in Maryland to charge an up-front fee to a delinquent homeowner for a loan modification, Kaufman said.
Shmuckler's business shut down in the fall of 2009, a few months after state officials obtained an administrative "cease and desist" order against him, Kaufman said.
Prince George's County has been the scene of a number of mortgage scams in recent years.
| November 30, 2010; 2:00 PM ET
Categories: From the Courthouse, Pr. George's, Ruben Castaneda, Virginia | Tags: Prince George's crime
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