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Idaho seeks to shut down mortgage firm

Wed., April 22, 2009, 3:08 p.m.

Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden wants to shut down Apply 2 Save Inc., the Coeur d’Alene-based mortgage modification company.

His office Tuesday filed suit against the company in Kootenai County District Court, alleging violations of state consumer protection laws.

The complaint, which also names Apply 2 Save President Derek Oberholtzer, says Wasden’s office has received 176 complaints from consumers all over the United States who say they got little or no service in return for up-front payments of as much as $1,500. Some ended up in foreclosure despite company claims their homes could be saved.

“Apply 2 Save preyed on these people’s desperation and exploited their trust,” the 17-page filing says.

The complaint includes summaries of 18 case histories involving consumers from Connecticut to California, Michigan to Texas.

Often they were told not to make any payments while Apply 2 Save was working with their lender. They had to repeatedly send documents the company said it had not received. A few said their credit card accounts were tapped without their authorization.

Robert Harkinish of Monroe, N.J., was typical. He paid Apply 2 Save $700. He re-sent documents. When contacted by the loan server about delinquent payments, he had to withdraw money from his Individual Retirement Account — paying penalties in the process — to save his home. Apply 2 Save, meanwhile, said it was continuing to negotiate with the servicer when it was not.

Former Apply 2 Save employees said they were directed to misrepresent company relationships with lenders and the federal government, its ability to modify loans, even the company’s name.

The complaint asks the court for an injunction blocking further Apply 2 Save operations, a revocation of the company’s business license, penalties of $880,000 — $5,000 for each of the 176 alleged violations — plus attorney fees.

Brett DeLange, spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office, said the lawsuit was filed when talks with Apply 2 Save officials broke down.

“There would be a variety of things that would need to be done to resolve our concerns,” he said.

Apply 2 Save representative Ryan Robinson said he had not seen the complaint, but added, “We have been working with the Attorney General’s Office for quite some time.”

Apply 2 Save employs more than 100 at a business park on North Meadowlark.



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