The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) this past week permanently banned RMK Financial Corporation, which does business as Majestic Home Loans, from the mortgage lending industry by prohibiting RMK from engaging in any mortgage lending activities or receiving remuneration from mortgage lending. In 2015, the CFPB issued an agency order against RMK for, among other things, sending advertisements to military families that led the recipients to believe the company was affiliated with the United States government. Despite the 2015 order’s prohibition on these and other actions, the company engaged in a series of repeat offenses, including disseminating millions of mortgage advertisements to military families that deceptively used fake U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) seals, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) logo, and other language or design elements to falsely imply that RMK was affiliated with the government. In addition to the ban, RMK will also pay a $1 million penalty that will be deposited into the CFPB’s victim relief fund.
“Even after the 2015 law enforcement order, RMK continued to lie to military families by falsely implying government endorsement of its home loans,” said CFPB Director Rohit Chopra. “Our action reflects our commitment to weed out repeat offenders, and we are shutting down this outfit for good.”
RMK is a privately held corporation with its principal place of business in Ontario, California. RMK is a nonbank that is licensed as a mortgage broker or lender in at least 30 states and Puerto Rico. RMK originates consumer mortgages, including mortgages guaranteed by the VA and mortgages insured by the FHA. However, RMK is affiliated with neither government agency.
In 2015, the CFPB took action against RMK to end its use of deceptive mortgage advertising practices, including advertisements that led potential homebuyers to believe that the company was affiliated with the VA or FHA. RMK sent these deceptive advertisements to tens of thousands of military families as well as to other holders of VA-guaranteed mortgages. In addition to paying a fine, RMK was required to end its illegal and deceptive practices.
The CFPB has previously warned about VA home loan scams. Many servicemembers, veterans, and military spouses receive fraudulent calls and mailers from companies claiming to be affiliated with the government, the VA, or their home loan servicer.
In the case of RMK, the CFPB found that the company disseminated millions of mortgage advertisements to military families that made deceptive representations or contained inadequate or impermissible disclosures in violation of the 2015 order, the Consumer Financial Protection Act, the Mortgage Acts and Practices Advertising Rule, and the Truth in Lending Act. Specifically, the company harmed military families and other consumers by sending millions of advertisements for mortgages that:
- Tricked military families about the government’s role in sending the advertisements or providing the loans: RMK sent advertisements that misrepresented that RMK was, or was affiliated with, the VA or the FHA, that the VA or FHA sent the notices, or that the advertised loans were provided by the VA or FHA. Military families or others who view such advertisements may decide to purchase the advertised mortgage based on the trust they have in the government agencies.
- Deceived borrowers about interest rates and key terms: RMK’s advertisements illegally disclosed a simple annual interest rate more conspicuously than the annual percentage rate, illegally advertised unavailable credit terms, and used the name of the homeowner’s current lender in a misleading way. Consumers who view such advertisements may be misled about the terms being offered or mistakenly believe their current lender is sending the advertisement.
- Falsely misrepresented loan requirements and lied about projected savings from refinancing: RMK’s advertisements misrepresented that the benefits available to those who qualified for VA or FHA loans were time limited. Additionally, RMK’s advertisements misrepresented that military families could obtain VA cash-out refinancing loans without an appraisal and without incurring the cost of an appraisal, that an appraisal was not a condition of qualifying for VA cash-out refinancing loans, and that no minimum credit score and no income verification were required to qualify for VA cash-out refinancing loans. Finally, RMK’s advertisements misrepresented the amount of monthly payments, the annual savings under the advertised loans, and the cash available in connection with the advertised loans.
Under the Consumer Financial Protection Act, the CFPB has the authority to take action against institutions violating federal consumer financial protection laws, including the Truth in Lending Act, which is intended to ensure that consumers can compare credit terms more readily and knowledgeably. The order requires RMK to:
- Exit the mortgage lending business: RMK is permanently banned from engaging in any mortgage lending activities, including advertising, marketing, promoting, offering, providing, originating, administering, servicing, or selling mortgage loans, or otherwise participating in or receiving remuneration from mortgage lending, or assisting others in doing so.
- Pay a $1 million fine: RMK must pay a $1 million penalty to the CFPB, which will be deposited into the CFPB’s victims relief fund.
The action is one in a series of actions the CFPB is taking to halt repeat offenders, particularly those that violate agency and court orders. The CFPB recently proposed a registry to detect repeat offenders in the financial marketplace. The action also complements broader efforts, including rulemaking by the Federal Trade Commission, to deter government and business impersonator scams.
Read I am a servicemember or veteran and I have decided to purchase a home. How do I know if a VA loan is the right fit for me?
Read more about VA loans here.
Learn more about mortgage protections for veterans here.
For the latest news on everything happening in Chester County and the surrounding area, be sure to follow MyChesCo on Google News.
Thanks for visiting! Looking for some Chester County pride? We got you covered! Shop our MyChesCo store and show your love for Chester County, Pennsylvania. We got shirts, hats, and more – all with a unique ChesCo flair. Plus, proceeds from each purchase helps support our mission of bringing reliable information and resources to the people of Chester County.