Owner of Northern Virginia Mortgage Rescue Business Arrested
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Howard R. Shmuckler, 67, of Virginia Beach, Va., has been charged by a federal grand jury of running a fraudulent mortgage-rescue business that received substantial fees but, in most cases, failed to modify clients’ mortgages.
Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; James W. McJunkin, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office; Jon T. Rymer, Inspector General of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC-OIG); and Christy Romero, Acting Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP); made the announcement.
Shmuckler was arrested his morning at his residence in Virginia Beach and will be arraigned before United States District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee on Aug. 11, 2011. He is charged with seven counts of wire fraud, which each carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
According to the indictment, Shmuckler owned and operated a mortgage-rescue business known as The Shmuckler Group (TSG), which claimed to be the “largest, most successful group of professionals…coming together to help home owners keep their homes in a manageable and affordable manner.” Operating his business at various times from McLean or Vienna, Va., Shmuckler is accused of misrepresenting that TSG had a success rate of 97 percent and falsely portraying himself as an attorney licensed in Virginia. Based on these representations, made by Shmuckler or client recruiters to induce potential clients to sign up for TSG services, TSG’s clients provided the company with fees ranging from $2,500 to $25,000 to modify the terms of their mortgages.
The indictment alleges that Shmuckler instructed clients to terminate contact with their mortgage companies and to stop making payments to their lenders. TSG is alleged to have never facilitated a modification of the mortgages referenced in the indictment. It is also alleged that the company’s loan modification success rate was substantially less than 97 percent.
This case was investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office, the FDIC-OIG, and SIGTARP. Assistant United States Attorney Timothy D. Belevetz is prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.
Criminal indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.