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Johnson Law Group and Elimadebt Not Playing Nice With Each Other

The Johnson Law Group of Nevada, not to be confused with the Johnson Law Group of Florida, are apparently having a bit of a tiff with their debt settlement marketing agent, Elimadebt of Florida and New York. Actually that would be Elimadebt USA, LLC from Florida and Elimadebt, LLC from New York. From this point out let’s just please consider the Elimadebt’s the same company, which they are essentially claimed to be. Now don’t get confused with Elimidebt, that’s a whole different company with their own issues.

So here is the lowdown on the Johnson Law Group issue. From reading the lawsuit by Elimadebt against Johnson Law Group, Advanced Client Solutions, KK, Paul Constantinou, Anan Mark Eldredge, Dan Demonte, Chris Pezzullo, Janna Salcedo, Jackie Stevens, Tom Ruscetta, Bert Bossman, Michael Lee, and Chris Durn you get the distinct impression that the honeymoon is over between these folks, Elimadebt and Johnson Law Group.

So let’s see if I can summarize this case and give you all the juicy bits. So Elimadebt, which consists of Stephen Drescher, Robert Denton, Ryan Sasson, Ian Behr, David Feingold, and Daniel Blumkin, collectively known as the Elimadebters decide to perform diligent research using the internet website of debt settlement industry’s professional association known as “The Association of Settlement Companies” (TASC), in order to locate a reputable company to associate with regarding Elimadebt providing sales, marketing, and pre-qualification of potential clients, which resulted in their speaking with Nicholas De Segonzac, who is the former president of TASC, and David Leuthold, who is the current vice-president of TASC.

One of the Elimadebt managers had done business with a competitor firm, which created a conflict of interest with the former president and vice president, who thereafter referred Elimadebt to the Johnson Law Group in Nevada, KK and Paul Constantinou, who is the Johnson Law Group business development manager. The Elimadebt boys boarded an airplane and flew to beautiful Las Vegas, hopefully took in a show or two, but met with Johnson Law Group team and KK.

Long story, short, everyone fell in love and an agreement was born where Elimadebt would sell debt settlement marketing services and send the clients to Johnson Law Group for $1,500 per ‘packet’ and get paid $100 per month per debt settlement package for 15 months. Elimadebt would also get $500 per packet for a “Personal Financial Analysis Form Packet’, whatever the heck that is.

So the agreement between Elimadebt and Johnson Law Group said that Elimadebt would provide sales, marketing, and pre-qualification of clients who were subsequently “live transferred” to the Johnson law Group for their approval and enrollment into the Johnson Law Group program. There was never anything stated that Elimadebt had to send Johnson law Group a minimum number of clients per month to remain friends.

It was a bit of a sweet deal since Elimadebt would get their full $1,500 “finders fee” from the Johnson Law Group even if the client bailed or was dropped by Johnson law Group. And guess what happens. Wait for it, wait for it.

Elimadebt even paid for the Johnson Law Group compliance director, Kevin Rice, to fly to the Elimadebt New York in August, 2008 and have a nice stay at the Radisson while he observed the operation and trained all the smiling Elimadebt faces there.

Kevin Rice was to train the Elimadebt staff on the correct protocol and standards the the Johnson Law Group required. It is alleged that Kevin Rice trained the Elimadebt staff on the Johnson Law Group specific complaince guidelines, he spoke to some of the Elimadebt customers and heard voice broadcasting messages (I assume those are robocall messages) to check them for compliance.

It is alleged Kevin Rice was made aware that Elimadebt was going to use a third party dialer to deliver the robocalls. That third party dialer was to reach out to clients not on the “Do Not Call” list, the subject of a future story. Kevin Rice said everything looked hunky-dorry and off he went back to Las Vegas, baby.

So Elimadebt launches the marketing campaign and spends about $100,000 per month on marketing and overhead. And then something wasn’t quite right. The antenna at Elimadebt went up. They became aware of perceived cash flow problems at Johnson Law Group as there were an unusually high number of customer complaints involving people who Johnson Law Group had accepted into its program and Johnson Law Group had a high attrition rate.

Many customers it is said were dropped with no reason given and clients were unhappy with Johnson Law Group because they were having money drafted from their banks with no prior approval of the client or even before the client had received a welcome packet or even signed a contract authorizing the debits. Elimadebt claims they tried to make clients happy after clients called Elimadebt and said Johnson Law Group would not answer or return their calls or they were promised refunds that never came.

In fact I’ve seen a list of dropped clients by Johnson Law Group and the reasons given were varied. Here is a sample:

  • Debit Returned
  • Debit Returned NSF
  • Dropped – No reason given
  • Dropped – Can’t afford program
  • Dropped – Working with attorney
  • Dropped – Not enough debt
  • Dropped – Circumstances have changed
  • Dropped – Client doesn’t want to ruin credit
  • Dropped – No Money
  • Dropped – Went with different company
  • Dropped – Payment stopped
  • Dropped – Can’t afford program
  • Dropped – Staying with program already in
  • Dropped – Lack of communication
  • Dropped – Not happy with program
  • Dropped – Not ready for this
  • Dropped – Not in best interest
  • Dropped – Not comfortable with our service
  • Dropped – Found a cheaper program
  • Dropped – Save credit score
  • Dropped – Not comfortable with our service
  • Dropped – Refinancing wants to save credit
  • Dropped – Program takes too long
  • Dropped – Can’t help him with HSBC card
  • Dropped – Work is slow
  • Dropped – Having second thoughts
  • Dropped – Misinformed
  • Dropped – Not comfortable
  • Dropped – Doesn’t want our services
  • Dropped – Filing bankruptcy
  • Dropped – Doesn’t like terms
  • Dropped – Garnishment of wages
  • Dropped – Husband doesn’t want to ruin credit
  • Dropped – Doesn’t authorize anything
  • Dropped – Wants to save credit
  • Dropped – Unaware she was in program
  • Dropped – Not comfortable with contract
  • Dropped – Payment stopped

The list I saw had about 850 dropped clients on it and most of them appear to have been for NSF or returned debits. It is claimed that approximately 30% of the Johnson Law Group approved customers referred by Elimadebt were dropped for reasons of having non-sufficient funds without proper notice being given to the client.

Around this time things really started to fall apart. Elimadebt wasn’t happy since they were now only sporadically getting paid by Johnson Law Group. Elimadebt claimed to be owed $40,000 from Johnson Law Group and only get $30,000. Or be owed $30,000 but get $22,000.

The Johnson Law Group wasn’t happy either. In fact it is alleged that Johnson Law Group claimed that Elimadebt had breached the contract by directly contacting clients and by pulling too many credit reports.

So it is said that an Elimadebt attorney gets on the phone at this point and ruffles a few feathers at Johnson Law Group by calling the corporate counsel instead of KK directly. KK is reported to have told the Elimadebt attorney, Andrew Schwab that Johnson Law Group “Will bury [Elimadebt]” if they attempt to collect its monies that are due and owing.

Now the love loss really begins. Elimadebt appears to be really pissed off and comes out with a doozy of a claim. Elimadebt says that Johnson Law Group continues to withdraw client funds each month with the first three months going strictly towards the Johnson Law Group fees. Meanwhile Johnson Law Group have effectively undertaken no efforts to reduce the debts of their clients, while continuing to charge for services allegedly rendered. Quite regularly, it is said, the clients contact Johnson Law Group after several months based upon the fact that minimal to no work has been performed on their account. It is said in a sworn document that at that time Johnson Law Group was indifferent as to whether the clients’ continue their representation, becuase the bulk of their fees have already been debited from their accounts. Now that’s a bitch slap.

This comes to that and the pissing contest turns into a lawsuit with Elimadebt claiming to be owed $1,200,000.00 in referral fees that Johnson Law Group has not paid.

Now, a while latter Johnson Law Group decides its really had enough and they sue Elimadebt and bring out a bunch of stuff that I bet the Elimadebters wish had stayed buried.

In the complaint, Johnson Law Group with Advanced Client Solutions says that Elimadebt Stephen Drescher was the CEO of Biltmore Securities, Inc and Biltmore was an entity formed and used by Drescher and others to commit securities fraud. Drescher was indicted, convicted and served time and a period of probation for securities fraud. Drescher was stripped of his license and is now using surrogates and “straw men” to be involved in Elimadebt. Drescher was a major investor in Elimadebt. Snap!

Robert Denton, the guy that signed the marketing agreement on behalf of Elimadebt with Johnson Law Group, well it is claimed he was associated as a registered representative with Biltmore Securities. The Securities and Exchange Commission was none too happy with his performance at Biltmore and as a result of his conduct did bar him from association with any broker, dealer, municipal securities dealer, investment company or investment adviser. The claim, Denton engaged in acts, practices and a course of business which would and did operate as a fraud and deceit. Denton is the managing partner and co-owner of Elimadebt. Nice!

Ryan Sasson happens to be the stepson of Stephen J. Drescher. Ahh. Bingo!

Ian Behar gets off relatively easy. it is claimed he is in charge of the day-to-day operations and he is a principle decision maker.

David Feingold it is said has control over the activities that Elimadebt engages in. He is a Florida lawyer and subject to Cease and Desist order by the Maryland Commissioner of Financial Regulations. He was also the subject of a Securities and Exchange Commission action resulting in a cease and desist in connection with his violations. The Maryland order said he needed to “immediately cease and desist from engaging in any further credit services business activities and/or foreclosure consultant activities with Maryland residents, including contracting to provide, or otherwise engaging in, loan modification, loss mitigation, foreclosure consulting, or similar services with Maryland residents, and that the Respondents are prohibited from engaging in any other mortgage lending or origination activities with Maryland residents. Source

Let’s just say that if you read the Johnson Law Group suit against the Elimadebters, you get the impression Johnson Law Group was not happy. You can read it for yourself if you want.

And while you are at it and you want to read the hundreds of pages of other documents that go with this mess, here are the other case numbers if you know how to look these things up. 2:2009cv00638, 9:2009cv80647, 9:2009cv81331.

Johnson Law Group and Elimadebt Not Playing Nice With Each Other
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About Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode
Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
  • Les

    I worked for these guys. First it was Timberline Capital on 44th street in NYC selling “unsecured loans” to business owners via their merchant processing accounts. Basically, we’d sell them a loan of $100k, they’d pay back $138,000 or more but through their credit card sales. Needless to say, after much scrutiny and business owners complaining this debt was crippling their business, it had to stop.
    Then they started getting into debt. First it was Debt Logic, then Elimadebt and now its Help Settle. The name of the company changed so many times due to fraud and bad business practices. Fortunately I left in 2010. I couldn’t sleep at night knowing what I was a part of. Ryan Sasson and Ian Behar are both a bit shady. Behar has none of his many businesses in his name, rather all of his real estate, horses, restaurants etc are under his wife’s name. He hired a former convict who went to jail for securities fraud – Joe DaBell – as President of the company, and Ryan is a millionaire baby. A product of his father’s fashion business who is the face of the company. All in all, I dont know much about the case, but working under these guys and this company, I am not surprised, but rather expected to hear something like this. As smart as these guys are, there is no real business model they follow besides jumping on the next big wave of business where capitalizing off of people’s ignorance to finance is key. Its just going from one underhanded business of robbing people to the next.

  • Les

    I worked for these guys. First it was Timberline Capital on 44th street in NYC selling “unsecured loans” to business owners via their merchant processing accounts. Basically, we’d sell them a loan of $100k, they’d pay back $138,000 or more but through their credit card sales. Needless to say, after much scrutiny and business owners complaining this debt was crippling their business, it had to stop.
    Then they started getting into debt. First it was Debt Logic, then Elimadebt and now its Help Settle. The name of the company changed so many times due to fraud and bad business practices. Fortunately I left in 2010. I couldn’t sleep at night knowing what I was a part of. Ryan Sasson and Ian Behar are both a bit shady. Behar has none of his many businesses in his name, rather all of his real estate, horses, restaurants etc are under his wife’s name. He hired a former convict who went to jail for securities fraud – Joe DaBell – as President of the company, and Ryan is a millionaire baby. A product of his father’s fashion business who is the face of the company. All in all, I dont know much about the case, but working under these guys and this company, I am not surprised, but rather expected to hear something like this. As smart as these guys are, there is no real business model they follow besides jumping on the next big wave of business where capitalizing off of people’s ignorance to finance is key. Its just going from one underhanded business of robbing people to the next.

  • http://DamonDay.com/blog Damon Day

    Well put Robert.

    I agree with you on TASC completely. I am assuming you brought that up because of my blog post linked to in my reply. That is the 4th article in a series of 5 that I wrote exposing TASC for what it really is.

    Also I wrote somewhat of a parady as a follow up to the series. It sort of explains the thinking behind the formation of TASC using Foxes :-)
    .-= Damon Day´s last blog ..TARF – The Association of Red Foxes =-.

  • Robert

    Hey burt,

    You can run a for-profit company and make a killing, like apple Inc. But when you do it off the backs of good hard working folks…it’s wrong. When you intentionally miss inform your potential clients about what your services really are….and dig them into a hole of penalties, higher rates, later charges, law suits etc. because you told them to stop making payments…..well your just not a good company.

    Oh and TASC…..it’s a bunch of bad DS companies that get together to regulate themselves…..like a bunch of criminals in a jail have a common code…so do debts settlement companies ….big deal.. Pay a price and you in.

  • Burt

    Wait a second…someone started a company not to help out the guy who is down on his luck, but to (gasp) make money? Who starts a for-profit business without the intention to make money?

    • http://DamonDay.com/blog Damon Day

      Hey Burt,

      I hate to be Captain Obvious here.
      But you can actually start a for profit company, make money and still help people. These programs were flat out taking advantage of consumers, selling false hope and stealing what little money they had left. Sending them into financial ruin just to make money.

      Do you believe ripping off your clients is the only way to make money?
      .-= Damon Day´s last blog ..TASC – Just Another Marketing Gimmick =-.

  • http://DamonDay.com/blog Damon Day

    Hey Steve,

    This would actually be very funny if it wasn’t so serious for consumers. This lawsuit gives consumers a glimpse about what most of these guys are really all about. Money. Notice that the marketing company is investing 100K a month, and are not happy because so many people are dropping out of the settlement program.

    The reason is because most of the people that they put in the settlement program DO NOT BELONG IN A SETTLEMENT PROGRAM, and nobody belongs in the settlement program offered by these clowns.

    It is all about money folks. Did you see that they get paid 1500 for every client even if that client drops out of the program? So what do the salespeople care if you should not be in it? They get you to pay for a few months and make 1500 bucks. Do you think they are concerned telling you to do anything other then sign up into their program.

    It is a total scam and rip off. It has nothing to do with helping you as a consumer and everything to do with making money. At this point, you simply cannot trust a debt settlement salesperson. 99% of the time, this is the sort of thing you are being sold into. They care about the commission, not your financial well being.
    .-= Damon Day´s last blog ..Debt Relief USA files Bankruptcy – Clients get Burned =-.

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