In Mortgage Refinancing Shysters, Part I I wrote about some suspicious refinancing solicitation letters I got from the Intercontinental Capital Group (ICG). After writing about it, I got several interesting comments. One cryptic comment came from what appeared to be a former employee who wrote: “I agree with your assessment on ICG and know this for a fact…” Now my curiosity was piqued. What was it that this individual knew?
I performed a detailed search on the term “Intercontinental Capital Group and Fraud” but this time, the search returned many more postings about unscrupulous dealings. There were many negative comments regarding ICG, but I noticed that there were also a few positive ones written by apparently satisfied customers.
The details of the pro-ICG postings were interesting. They appeared to have come from bona fide customers. On the one hand, the language seemed to be unbiased acknowledging some bad online press while on the other hand the writers claimed that they were very satisfied with the quality of service they received from ICG and that the company was entirely above board. One example read:
…I previously cancelled an appraisal appointment that I had scheduled with this company because I read something online that got me nervous especially being a single mom that just got back to work after being injured. I checked out these links and feel a lot better. I am going to give them a call and hopefully the rates are still low because I really would like to get rid of this adjustable rate mortgage and lower my monthly payments.
by educatedconsumer August 6, 2009 5:13
Then last week, I myself received a similar comment on my blog posting from a user who identified himself as “Joseph.” He wrote:
I received one of their letters and refinanced with them. They did a fine job and got me a good rate. I agree that maybe it wasn’t the best way of soliciting business, but it’s a tough market. Either way, they did the job they promised to do.
by Joseph October 28, 2009 13:33
Now, I don’t know about most people, but I certainly don’t spend my free time posting positive comments on blogs trying to sway other readers to believe that allegations of fraudulent or contentious services are unfounded.
I suspected that Joseph had some vested interest in ICG. From the crux of the comment left by him, it seemed that he was so moved by his mortgage refinancing experience that he became overwhelmed with the desire to spread the good news about ICG to the rest of the world.
When I examined the comment source, I noticed that the e-mail associated with it was firstname.lastname@example.org. Now it is possible that Jennifer, following the romantic style of George Sand, was using a nom de plume. But on the other hand it was also possible that Joseph was Jennifer’s darker side, I have heard of stranger things before. So I did some more research, then I slipped into my feminine persona and contacted her via e-mail asking for mortgage refinancing advice.
It did not take to long before I received the following ICG e-mail:
Intercontinental Capital Group can probably give you a good rate and fast service. Their website is:
http : //www.intercontinentalcapitalgroup.com
You should contact Brad Allen over there, he can give you the information you’re looking for. His phone number is 212.485.9655. His direct e-mail is email@example.com.
I hope they are able to help you!
I am looking into refinancing my home mortgage and would like to get more information about your services and rates.
Can you please provide more information about your offerings?
A quick identify search confirmed my suspicions that Joseph and Jennifer Margulis were indeed one and the same (see image below). It also turns out that Jennifer was in fact an ICG marketing employee on a company mission to rehabilitate the ICG’s public image. Apparently, she found my posting about her company and decided to sprinkle some fluffy propaganda comments. To make them look more credible, her comments were disguised as coming from little Joseph, your all-American, happy and satisfied mortgage customer.
Deceptive solicitation letters, whitewashing negative customer feedback and impersonating legitimate users in order to lure customers have no place in any business, even less so, in financial organizations that above all should uphold integrity and honesty.
© Copyright 2009 Yaacov Apelbaum All Rights Reserved.