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In brief: Government extends HARP mortgage help

WASHINGTON – The U.S. government is extending a program that allows borrowers with mortgages backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac to refinance at lower rates.

The Home Affordable Refinance Program, known as HARP, was to expire Dec. 31. The Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie and Freddie, said Thursday it is extending the program through 2015 to enable more borrowers to use it. About 2.2 million people have refinanced their mortgages through the program since April 2009. Officials had hoped that at least 4 million borrowers would participate.

For borrowers to qualify, the amount owed on their mortgage must be more than 80 percent of the home’s appraised value. Borrowers must be current on their mortgage, which must have been sold to Fannie or Freddie before June 2009.

Cease-and-desist for Success Trade

WASHINGTON – The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority filed a cease-and-desist order against Success Trade Securities, saying Thursday that the online investment firm scammed its investors, which include a number of professional athletes.

The private industry watchdog issued a complaint against Success Trade and its CEO and President Fuad Ahmed accusing it of fraud in the sales of $18 million in notes issued by the firm’s parent company, Success Trade Inc.

Success Trade, whose activities have been frozen, didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment.

FINRA claims that the firm, which operates through Just2Trade and LowTrades, Ahmed and other representatives, sold more than $18 million in notes to 58 investors, many of whom are current or former NFL and NBA players. But the company and its officials claimed they were raising just $5 million even after sales significantly exceeded the original offering, FINRA said.

Google will make final email arrangements

NEW YORK – Google has launched a tool that lets users decide what happens with their email, Google Plus and other accounts after they die – or become inactive online for any other reason.

Called “inactive account manager,” the feature lets users of Google’s services tell the company what to do with email messages and other data if their account becomes inactive.

For example, Google says, users can choose to delete their data after three, six or 12 months of inactivity. Or they can choose specific people to receive the data.

Besides Gmail and Google Plus, other services covered include YouTube, the photo-sharing service Picasa and Blogger. Google Inc., based in Mountain View, Calif., says it will warn users through a secondary email address or a provided phone number before taking any action.

LinkedIn to purchase e-reader platform firm

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. – Professional networking website LinkedIn is paying about $90 million to acquire Pulse, which makes an e-reader platform used on mobile devices.

More than 30 million people worldwide use Pulse’s e-reader applications on devices running both Apple and Android-based operating systems. The San Francisco-based company was founded in 2010 by Akshay Kothari and Ankit Gupta while they were students at Stanford University.