Owner of CT Media Agency Who Falsely Advertised Mortgage Modification Services is Sentenced
Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that MATTHEW GOLDREICH, 46, of East Lyme, was sentenced today by Chief U.S. District Judge Janet C. Hall in New Haven to two years of probation, including three months of home confinement, for producing and disseminating false advertisements for mortgage modification services. Chief Judge Hall also ordered GOLDREICH to pay a $100,000 fine and $75,794 in restitution.
According to court documents and statements made in court, in March 2009, the U.S. Department of the Treasury created the Home Affordable Modification Program (“HAMP”), which consisted of a number of incentives to encourage struggling homeowners and financial institutions to modify existing loans on owner-occupied primary residences in order to help keep these properties out of foreclosure.
Between approximately May 2009 and February 2013, GOLDREICH used his New London-based media agency, National Media Connection, LLC, to produce and air television, radio, and Internet advertisements for the National Mortgage Help Center, LLC (“NMHC”), a shell company incorporated by GOLDREICH. The advertisements falsely claimed that NMHC could help struggling homeowners obtain home mortgage loan modifications. Many of the advertisements also falsely depicted NMHC as affiliated with the federal government, including through references to government stimulus programs and the use of President Barack Obama’s image. One advertisement that aired in 2010 stated: “Attention homeowners. We know it’s tough out there. And while America’s homeowners are facing more challenges than ever before, the National Mortgage Help Center is ready to help.” The same advertisement also stated: “We may be able to lower your rate to as low as 1% and cut your mortgage payment in half. Our trained specialists know all the new regulations to get you quick relief. We help thousands of homeowners every day.”
The advertisements included toll-free telephone numbers for mortgage borrowers to call for help modifying their mortgages. In truth, NMHC did not provide mortgage modification services for any homeowners, and operated only as a front. Homeowners who called the toll-free telephone numbers advertised by NMHC were routed to National Media Connection’s clients. The clients, in turn, paid National Media Connection for these “leads.” Under the pretense of helping homeowners modify their mortgages, certain National Media Connection clients then charged the homeowners fees and provided no services whatsoever in return.
As a result of the advertisements, several struggling homeowners across the United States were defrauded by unscrupulous clients of GOLDREICH’s media company, and some are in danger of losing their homes.
On August 13, 2015, GOLDREICH pleaded guilty to one count of false advertising.
This investigation is being conducted by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP), U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development—Office of Inspector General, and Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Avi Perry and Liam Brennan.