WASHINGTON (CN) – The Federal Trade Commission wants to stop the unknown parties allegedly responsible for tricking consumers into trying to modify their mortgages through bogus Web sites made to look like the official site for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The sites allegedly use the same program names as the HUD and display the government seal and a photo swiped from the U.S. Department of Treasury’s official site.
The FTC says it doesn’t know the defendants’ identities, because they used a foreign registrar to register the sites bailout.hud-gov.us and bailout.dohgov.us.
“To further bolster their government credentials,” the lawsuit claims, “on their ‘Consumer Alert’ link, Defendant(s) state ‘Fraudulent Websites are on the rise, only trust official government Websites.'”
The defendants use the false association and false sense of security to solicit information about a consumer’s loan, including the borrower’s name, email address and phone number, the lawsuit claims.
One of the sites includes a note dispelling any affiliation with the HUD, but the FTC says the disclaimer is in a “faint typeface at the very bottom” of the page.
The FTC demands an injunction and disgorgement of any illegally gained profits.