Salisbury businessman settles mortgage-fraud investigation

March 23, 2011|By Jamie Smith Hopkins, The Baltimore Sun

An Eastern Shore businessman will pay a $75,000 fine to the state and either repay or waive more than $4 million due from consumers in a settlement agreement that concludes a mortgage-fraud investigation, Maryland regulators said Wednesday.

The Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation had earlier issued a cease-and-desist order to Frank J. Ward III of the Salisbury-based Money Centre for acting as an unlicensed lender and making misrepresentations with the intent to defraud borrowers, the agency said.

In addition to the penalty, Ward will have to repay fees and interest that should not have been collected from borrowers and require payments only on the principal of the approximately 50 mortgages still outstanding, the state said. He, his company and one of his employees also agreed not to participate in mortgage activity for seven years. Ward, who operates home builder Ward Construction as well as the Money Centre, did not return a message seeking comment.

"This settlement will provide significant relief to homeowners who have been harmed by mortgage fraud and prevent future abuse," Mark Kaufman, the state's financial regulation commissioner, said in a statement.

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