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Several recent offerings promise increased quality, quantity and return on mortgage leads, while two lead firms hope new owners will enhance their business. But one former lead generation operator — who charged originators around $20 for each loan lead — has been convicted for peddling worthless data.

In 2003, Gregory Cooper telephoned mortgage brokers in multiple states about buying lists of live leads, according to U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. He collected more than $700,000 for the lists, which were sold for $3,000 each at a cost of around $20 per name. Prospective borrowers, according to Cooper, had expressed an interest in speaking with a mortgage broker about refinancing their homes in response to a “massive telemarketing and survey effort.”

Problem was that Cooper’s lists were bogus, Bharara’s statement said. The lists “were, in fact, lists of individuals who had never expressed any such interest.” Prospects were downloaded from an online service at a cost of just 10 cents per name.

In 2006, Cooper moved his business to the basement of his New York house and began soliciting homeowners with a hybrid mortgage that was reportedly 2 percent during the first five years and 5 percent for the remaining 25 years. But the program was really a negative amortization loan with monthly rate adjustments. Earnings from the scheme were more than $750,000 in broker commissions earned at the rate of between $15,000 and $20,000 a pop.

Following a two-week trial, a jury convicted Cooper of nine counts of mail fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit mail fraud. He sits in jail awaiting a Feb. 23, 2010, prison sentencing of as much as 220 years.

Eight of LendingTree’s best customers were recognized for outstanding achievement during the Charlotte, N.C.-based firm’s 10th Annual Partner Summit during late August and early September in Las Vegas. Nearly 200 people attended the event, which included presentations by Fannie Mae Chief Economist Doug Duncan and Mt. Everest climber John Amatt.

In August, LendingTree, which claims to be “the nation’s number one online lending exchange,” announced the launch of an online portal that identifies untapped potential loan volume and how to maximize performance. Dubbed Canopy, the platform purportedly provides analytic capabilities in easy-to-understand format. The company also recently launched online ratings of its network of lenders.

Former LendingTree executive Keith Moore was hired as chief marketing officer of iContact, an August news release indicated. iContact reports over 51,000 e-mail marketing customers.

Leads360 recently reported that a division of Jones International Ltd. became its 4,000th client. The Los Angeles-based lead-management provider said its revenues have jumped by half over last year, and its cash flow has turned positive well ahead of budgeted projections.

Helping to fuel the growth was LeadPlanet, which announced last month that its services had been integrated into Leads360. LeadPlanet said streamlining lead management is a critical part its strategy in the current “challenging” environment.

Under new ownership, MortgageLeads.com has changed its Web site, expanded its offerings and changed its business mode, an Oct. 20 announcement indicated. The company claims it has stopped focusing on quantity and overselling leads and will instead focus on lead quality. Its offerings include Internet leads, live transfer leads and TV/Radio live transfer leads. Also available are telemarketing leads, data lists and direct mail.

MortgageRateLoanModification.com was acquired by LanceInABox LLC, a news release Tuesday said. The acquisition of the “top-tier lead generation” Web site — one of two announced by the Delray Beach, Fla., firm — was done with the intention of bringing MortgageRateLoanModification.com “to the next level.”

Vintage Media LLC reported record third-quarter sales. The Dallas-based firm generates mortgage leads from television marketing.

A fully-integrated online lead production solution has been integrated into Integrated Mortgage Origination Systems’ platform, according a an Oct. 14 press release. The service provider said it has partnered with Zillow.com and LowerMyBills.com as an official lead aggregator.

The mortgage lead subsidiary of Experian, LowerMyBills.com, hoped to increase its supply of available leads with a July campaign that highlighted how prospective borrowers could save $10,000 a year.

Write in about your mortgage lead experiences to [email protected].

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