Fraud against Deaf and Hard of Hearing people
Charges: Fraud targeted hearing impaired
By LORNA COLQUHOUN
New Hampshire Union Leader Correspondent
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
TAMWORTH – A businessman providing mortgage services for the hearing impaired has been arrested on several charges relating to fraudulent business practices, according to investigators.
Eric W. Eliason, 30, who also goes by the name Ricky Masci, is charged with theft by deception, failure to obtain a debt adjustment license, failure to obtain a mortgage originators license and two counts of providing untrue statements.
In a statement issued by Attorney General Michael Delaney, state Banking Commissioner Peter C. Hildreth and Carroll County Sheriff Christopher Conley, the charges against Eliason occurred in connection with his business, Deaf and Hard of Hearing Mortgage Consultants.
The investigation included the New Hampshire agencies, as well as the DeKalb County (Ill.) Sheriff’s Department.
According to investigators, the first set of complaints allege that Eliason took up-front money to assist hard of hearing clients in completing a loan modification of their home mortgage.
The complaints allege, according to the statement, that homeowners were repeatedly told that their loan modification was in process, and, ultimately, that the modification was denied.
The charges also allege that Eliason had never contacted the mortgage company to perform a modification and that he “intended to take advantage of the victim’s physical condition that impaired the victim’s ability to manage their property or financial resources or to protect their rights or interests,” according to the statement.
A second set of complaints alleges that Eliason attempted to broker a refinance of a home loan for another hard of hearing couple, obtaining up-front fees with the promise that the money would be refunded if the refinance was not completed.
“No loan was obtained, and no money was refunded,” according to the statement. “Eliason was not licensed to conduct any of these transactions.”
On its Web site, the company is described as “a nationwide deaf owned mortgage company, committed to providing outstanding service and value to the deaf and hard of hearing community by utilizing American Sign Language or spoken English.”
Eliason may be arraigned as early as today in the District Court of Southern Carroll County in Ossipee.
The charges being brought forward range from a class A felony with an extended term of imprisonment, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 to 30 years in state prison and a $4,000 fine, to misdemeanors, which carry a maximum penalty of 12 months in the house of corrections and a $2,000 fine.