For Rene Ruelas, the calls came faster than weeds sprouting in the yard of an empty house.

Foreclosure was looming for the Buena Park home that Ruelas shared with his wife, Rose, and four children. Ruelas said he paid about $4,000 over five weeks to a company that never even contacted his lender to modify his home loan.

Now Ruelas and his family are on the cover of a DVD the Federal Trade Commission is sending out in an effort to curb the calls and mailers that have helped dupe hundreds of thousands of homeowners out of hundreds of millions of dollars. The DVD -- along with a flurry of lawsuits -- was unveiled Wednesday as a part of Operation Loan Lies, a nationwide crackdown by federal, state and local authorities on those who prey on homeowners desperate for mortgage relief.

In documents filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles and Orange counties, California Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown and the Federal Trade Commission allege that the California firms charged $500 to $5,500 in upfront fees, often promising to get lenders to modify mortgages to make payments more affordable -- and never delivered.

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