Posted on Thursday, May 5, 2011
Accused mortgage-modification fraudster Howard Shmuckler has lost the website he used to call his accusers “the real scammers.”
Even though Shmuckler had been indicted and repeatedly sued for charging homeowners for modifications he never delivered, he maintained his website until a court order went against him earlier this month.
Shmuckler charged homeowners thousands of dollars in upfront fees on the promise he would get them mortgage modifications to help them stay out of foreclosure. Yet, hundreds of his clients never received mods, according to the Maryland government and attorneys representing homeowners in Virginia, where the now-defunct Shmuckler Group had been based. But, at www.HowardShmuckler.com -- which redirected to www.TheyKilledTheSavior.com -- Shmuckler insisted that he'd been a savior for more than 900 homeowners.
"No, Howard Shmuckler cannot, does not and never claimed to grant Eternal Salvation or save a Soul from Eternal Damnation," Shmuckler's site said. "Did Howard Shmuckler and The Shmuckler Group, LLC save nearly a thousand (1,000) HONEST families from being out on the street - from being evicted from their homes once they fell behind on their mortgage payments? YOU BET HE DID!"
The Federal Trade Commission outlawed upfront fees for mortgage assistance services at the beginning of 2011 in an effort to shut down a growing industry that preys on struggling homeowners unable to win help from indifferent banks and mortgage-servicing companies. Homeowners who want help dealing with their lenders can get free assistance from housing counselors certified by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Virginia resident Hassina Ansary sued Shmuckler in 2009 for charging her $2,000, but doing nothing while her home slid into foreclosure. A Virginia jury took her side and order Shmuckler to fork over $686,600. Instead, he paid her a tribute on his website, with a picture of the "evil monkey" from the TV-series "Family Guy" pointing an accusatory finger at a picture of Ansary. The header on the page warned: "BEWARE - THE REAL SCAMMERS." The page also included a long list of names, presumably former clients, described as "FRAUD MASTERS."
Shmuckler's site accused Ansary of receiving rental income from investment properties, which Ansary denied in the defamation suit that resulted in the site going down earlier this month. A Virginia judge ruled in Ansary's favor, and Ansary's attorney said she entered into separate agreements with the companies that hosted the site.
Shmuckler, who previously told The Huffington Post to check out his site in lieu of an interview, could not be reached on Monday.
In an ironic twist, Shmuckler is now fighting to save his own home: Last summer Ansary filed a civil complaint to force him to sell his Virginia Beach house to pay the judgment she'd been awarded as a victim of his scam.
By Arthur Delaney, THE HUFFINGTON POST