Previously I reported that Bella Financial, that had been providing debt settlement services as Debt By Debt Settlement Services, had gone bankrupt and closed down. There is more to the story coming to light.
The other day a commenter posted this on the site about Bella Financial:
I am very embarrassed and angry at my situation. I am hoping that someone can give me advice.
I signed with a debt settlement company Bella Financial, in June 2008; they filed bankruptcy in May 2010 after settling only one of my debts. I have since settled the other ON MY OWN, which I wish I had done in the first place, but they scare you into thinking you will be hounded and harassed without their assistance.
I paid them $4500 and feel that they owe me at least $4100 back. They filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy here in Texas; but have reopened already- same office, same players! Under a different name- but based in Delaware.
I filed a complaint with the Texas AG and also filed as a claimant on the bankruptcy case.
I have been tenacious about contacting them daily but the “boss” won’t call me back.
I sure would like to use that money to pay off my last credit card and restore my (formerly) platinum credit.
I read your post about how I can file a small claim; guess I’ll do that but I want these people OUT-ed!
The company was Bella Financial, Mike Hauser and Doug Barker, the owners, re-opened under Mountain View Financial. New phone number is 866-681-6384 and if you call, you always get a voice mail system. I also e-mail them daily; I have received a response from Rita Moore, so I know they are getting my e-mails. The owner is MHauser@mtview**********.com
Can you use your blog to alert more people and maybe scare these criminals? :) I am pestering them to death and I won’t stop. It makes me feel better.
I took a look at the new company, Nationwide Financial Group and they list their address as 364 East Main Street, Suite 301, Middletown, DE 19709. – Source. But when I went to chase down the address I was able to confirm that their address is actually a UPS Store in the Middletown Crossing shopping center.
The State of Delaware is showing that Mountainview Financial Group was originally registered in 2001. It’s possible that the Mountain View Financial Group (as spelled on the DE registration) was a shelf corporation if it was indeed registered in 2001.
I also noticed that the Mountain View Financial Group site was displaying the logo for the United States Organization of Bankruptcy Alternatives and I contacted the executive director of USOBA to confirm their membership and never received a confirmation or response back to verify they are USOBA members.
Mike Hauser finally called me last week- very amiable, talked about how he “hated” to do this, he has loyal employees, they didn’t know what to tell me when I called/e-mailed/came in personally to the office… I wondered why they all ran to the back like deer in the headlights and said he “might be in Michigan” at that time.
I subsequently flooded their phones (which are never answered, they go straight to VM) and their website with requests to hear from someone, anyone….. he said his employees kept coming to him and telling him I wasn’t going away, which was true.
When I questioned all the subterfuge, he said that his lawyers advised him that he couldn’t refund my money (or anyone else’s) although he would “sure like to write me a personal check” but “it would be illegal.”
He is quite a slick guy and I am sure people fall for it, since he is very friendly. I never dealt with him before.
He then generously offered to do his utmost to settle my remaining account “even though we aren’t supposed to”; I told him that there is not trust here and I have already dealt with the Bank of America, which I should have done in the first place.
I do not believe that he can’t give me a refund “due to legal issues” and when I read the bankruptcy documents, I am even more convinced that they are criminals.
I already filed as a claimant to the suit and a complaint with the AG. I am sure nothing will come of it.
The tipster (send in your tips here) told me that Nationwide Financial Group is actually still located in the Bella Financial Offices at 13625 Neutron Rd, Dallas, TX 75244 and that was the address they went to when they visited the offices as described above. I was able to confirm it is the previous office address of Bella Financial. – Source
Here is a recent picture of the commercial office address and as you can see it appears that people are still working out of that address.
Apparently Bella Financial went bankrupt on May 20, 2010. Their initial filing was incomplete so they had to provide more documentation latter. The filing also lists their address as 13625 Neutron Rd, Dallas, TX 75244.
The Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing says Michael T. Hauser was the president of Bella Financial. – Source
In a statement filed on June 2, 2010, Bella Financial said it only owned seven desks and seven computers worth $200, total. It also listed a claim against the company for $55,000 by the Consumer Affairs office in Georgia. – Source. More detail on that case can be found in the bankruptcy statement Bella Financial filed. – Source
What I found interesting in the bankruptcy filing was that it did not list any Bella Financial clients that had paid Bella Financial money but had not received the services promised. Generally consumers in this situation are considered to be unsecured creditors.
If a consumer had paid for assistance settling debt and, for whatever reason, has not used those services then a credit should still exist for that money paid but not used yet. I doubt the contract had a “must use by” statement in it.
In looking at the bankruptcy case filed at least one consumer noticed they were not listed as a creditor in the bankruptcy and subsequently sent a statement to the court asking to be listed as a creditor in hopes of getting some money back.
If you feel you should be included in the bankruptcy case then you may want to send a letter to the bankruptcy court as the person did above. Make sure your letter arrives before September 8, 2010 to be included in the meeting of creditors.
As of the publication of this article the meeting of creditors in this case was continued until September 8, 2010 at 3:00 pm.
Mike Hauser, President of Bella Financial and Mountain View Financial Group Shares His Point of View
I emailed Mike Hauser at the email address provided a week ago but as of the publication of this article he had not responded. I also called the company but as the commenter above said, it just went to voicemail.
A tipster (send in your tips here) had sent me the cell number for Mike Hauser and so I called and actually spoke to Mike. In order to make sure I fully get his side of the story out I am quoting our conversation about this matter, below. I would hate to be criticized for not allowing the company to state their side of this story.
My Conversation With Mike Hauser
Here is the verbatim transcript of my conversation with Mike Hauser. Mike said, “Here is the situation. Bella Financial is seven years old. We are based out of Dallas, Texas, 13625 Neutron Road. We decided to wind down Bella two years ago, and we’ve been doing it ever since, continually servicing every single client all the way through, answering any and all complaints all the way through.
The states jumped in. I don’t know if you follow the FTC regulations, but the states have been jumping in as the credit card companies changed all their rules and regulations, which I’m sure you’re aware of. They have tried to put settlement companies out of business, the ones that aren’t doing it correctly.
So we’re – here we are. We are continuing to service our clients. 48 months – 24 months go by. We’re getting ready to wind it down and just close it down. Not bankrupt the company. Just wind it down and continue to service, which we are still doing, currently, right now. If you have an account and you have money to settle with, we’ve contacted everybody, and so we will do it.
The problem is we’ve got customers out there that know how to manipulate the system, run debt up and blame everybody, their sister, the government, and of course, me, though we’re not doing anything. But if they don’t have any money to settle with, we can’t settle their claims. So I can’t do anything, and all they do is they say, “Oh, they took a fee, and they didn’t provide the service.” That’s complete horse hockey.
We can’t provide the service if you don’t have any money to settle with. I can get you a settlement today for anything that you want based on the relationships that we have with these creditors. So don’t believe the song and dance that these people are saying that we’re abandoning them. Anybody that’s called those numbers, those numbers are still active. They are not shut down, and we return every single phone call.
If you have somebody that says we’re not returning a phone call, then I wish you would provide that to me, because I’ll be more than happy to call them personally.
So the two-year mark comes up. We’ve got about six months left of the wind-down, and you can check with my attorneys on all of this, on the timeframes. All clients of Bella have been notified of the situation, and that we will be shutting down.
Well, the state of Georgia comes in roughly 120 days ago, and they say that we are not supposed to be operating in that state. Now if you talk to any debt settlement company, there’s a very fine line on the written law and the spirit of the law. My attorneys say that we are okay in those states. It’s the same stuff as what’s going on in California and the cease and desist. It’s the way they view it and the way we view it.
It’s basically the attorneys in that state want to keep their residents paying money into those states. You know, California’s almost bankrupt anyway, so they want to keep the money within state lines. So is Georgia. They’re the same way. So they’re going after anybody that they can try to extort money out of.
So this happened about 120 days ago. Here we are. We’ve already wound down Bella, so there’s no money in the accounts. We’re still servicing. We’re still servicing all the Bella clients as per the contracts, no problem. We were just going to shut it down, service the contracts until they expire, and everybody’s happy, and that’s what we’ve done. Everybody sees the bank.
So Georgia comes in and says, “We’re not going to – we don’t like that you’re working in our state, and we want restitution for all of our Georgia clients,” which means they want us to basically refund everything to all their clients. We say, “Well, look. We’ve been winding down for two years. We have no money in Bella. We can’t pay that.”
So we were forced by the state of Georgia to file bankruptcy. It’s not that we are insolvent, but we would be insolvent if we had to pay back all the restitution. Meanwhile, we’re still taking care of all the Georgia clients and anybody that’s ____. There’s no complaints out of Georgia. We’ve taken care of everybody. It’s just the state of Georgia and that Attorney General’s office down there got greedy.
They wanted to get some money from somebody, you know, so these guys can all wear their Sears suits to work every day, and you know, you know how the Democratic red tape works. So that’s the way that works. So that’s how that came about. That’s how the bankruptcy came out. What else would you like to talk about?”
I then asked about Mountain View and when it started up.
Mike said, “Mountain View started two years ago when we started the wind-down of Bella. So both companies are running at the same time. Now the reason Mountain View has a different address in Delaware is because they are more friendly to businesses. There’re better tax breaks in Delaware, just like Nevada. You’ll see that most debt settlement companies, most companies in general, where they’re going to move is going to look for better tax breaks. Franchise tax is what I’m talking about.
So there’s an easier franchise tax in Delaware than there is in Texas, so we just moved it up there. The headquarters, it’s up there. The physical address, when you file for any corporation, you can put in any state. Whether you physically reside there is totally legal whatever you want to do.
Now we have the call center here in Dallas, so we use that physical site to service any/all Mountain View and Bella clients. Totally different phone lines. Totally different everything else. There’s a big Chinese wall right between the two companies. No money goes back and forth. Bella winds down, Mountain View started up, and that’s it.
I can’t service any Bella client under Mountain View. That’s why we’re doing it, you know, kind of – I don’t know what the word is – just kind of – I don’t – we’re handling all the Bella clients. Anybody that calls in and says, “I have money to settle,” we’ll take care of all of it. The people that are complaining, the people like you, saying they’ve been abandoned, are the people that don’t have any money. We can’t do anything for it, and they say, “We want a refund.”
Well, I can’t refund you, because there’s no money in Bella, but I’m willing to provide the service that you pay for. But they don’t want to follow the contract, so I can’t – I’m hand – this is a catch 22. I can’t do anything about it.”
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