Metron Services and Miracle Debt Group have just been sued. Here are the allegations from the suit. They might sound very familiar to some.
By July 2009, Plaintiffs had accumulated consumer credit card debt totaling more than $101,000 (the “Debt”).
In July 2009, Plaintiffs received a mailed advertisement Miracle Debt wherein Miracle Debt claimed that it could settle consumer credit card debt quickly, at very low cost, and for a fraction of the amount actually owed to the credit card company. The advertisements contained Miracle Debt’s telephone number.
In July 2009, Plaintiffs further investigated by visiting websites www.miracledebt.com and www.metronservices.com (“Websites”).
The Websites stated that their programs are “an alternative to bankruptcy” that allowed a consumer to “free up cash ﬂow” and promised to “lower your unsecured debts for pennies on the dollar.”
The Websites promised “a negotiation process that has been tested and developed over years of experience by our team of professionals in the ﬁeld of finance and credit card debt.”
The Websites also advised that “Federal and state consumer laws were designed to protect the consumer. Miracle Debt Solutions utilizes these laws to protect you while your debt is in dispute.”
Miracle Debt counseled on its website that it is a “myth” that Miracle Debt’s debt management “can hurt your credit.”
Miracle Debt touted that its “experienced professionals” with “extensive knowledge in Federal and State Consumer Laws and exercise the Fair Credit Reporting Act, Fair Credit Billing Act, as well as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act to help settle your debt.”
Miracle Debt also counseled against Bankruptcy on its site, noting “It will remain on your credit report for up to 10 years and you can be denied employment, state licenses, insurance, and tenancy of an apartment. Most importantly, you can be denied virtually any type of credit with a bankruptcy on your record. In addition, since bankruptcy laws have changed recently, it is even more difﬁcult to qualify for Chapter 7… you will not be allowed to discharge alimony, child support… or any loan on the bankruptcy petition. Debt settlement is an attractive alternative to bankruptcy.”
The Miracle Debt website indicated that Miracle Debt could assist consumers in any location, including Missouri.
In July 2009, Plaintiffs contacted a Miracle Debt representative by telephone and disclosed details about their ﬁnancial situation and the Debt.
At the time Plaintiffs contacted Miracle Debt, and all times relevant to this Complaint, Miracle Debt was unregistered as a debt adjuster as required by the Missouri Division of Finance such that Miracle Debt never posted a debt adjuster surety bond.
In order to induce Plaintiffs to use Miracle Debt’s service, the Miracle Debt representative counseled Plaintiffs that Miracle Debt could settle all accounts that made up the Debt in thirty-six months or less and instructed Plaintiffs to access an electronic version of a Metron Service Agreement (“Agreement”) on Miracle Debt’s website while the representative remained on the phone.
The Miracle Debt representative then analyzed the Agreement for Plaintiffs and pretended to explain the entire Agreement. The Miracle Debt representative hid from Plaintiffs the fact that the Agreement purported to contain a waiver of Plaintiffs’ right to sue Miracle Debt, an arbitration provision, a waiver of Plaintiffs’ right to participate in a class action lawsuit against Miracle Debt, a waiver of Plaintiffs’ right to participate in a class action arbitration against Miracle Debt, a waiver of Plaintiffs’ right to a trial by jury, and a waiver of Plaintiffs’ right to pursue any action against Miracle Debt whatsoever unless Plaintiffs pursued the action wherever Metron resided.
Plaintiffs never saw and never agreed to the arbitration provision or the provisions waiving their right to a jury trial, waiving their right to participate in a class action in litigation or arbitration, and establishing San Francisco County as the venue for any dispute.
The Miracle Debt representative counseled Plaintiffs to stop paying their creditors immediately, and to forward monthly payments to Miracle Debt so that it could negotiate the Debt for Plaintiffs.
Based on Miracle Debt’s advertisements, the communications on the Website, and their conversations with the Miracle Debt representative that explained the Agreement, Plaintiffs elected to become a customer of Miracle Debt such that Miracle Debt would negotiate the Debt.
Miracle Debt presented the Agreement to Plaintiffs as a “take it or leave it” Agreement. Plaintiffs were powerless to make any changes or edits to the Agreement.
In addition to signing the Agreement, Miracle Debt required Plaintiffs to execute, and Plaintiffs did execute, a Power of Attorney that appointed Miracle Debt as Plaintiffs’ attorney in fact, with full power to represent them in negotiating the validity, reduction, settlement, and payment of the Debt.
In Months 1-3 of the program, referred to as “Phase 1″ by Miracle Debt, Plaintiffs would pay approximately $2,050 per month to Miracle Debt; of which more than 99.5 percent went directly to Miracle Debt as a “Program Fee.”
During Phase 1, Miracle Debt failed to make any payments to Plaintiffs’ creditors.
At minimum, Miracle Debt charged Plaintiffs a fee of 15 percent of the Debt.
Miracle Debt never disclosed to Plaintiffs how it often or in what amounts it would begin to actually pay down the Debt out of the monthly payments that Plaintiffs relinquished into Miracle Debt’s control. Miracle Debt’s Behavior is Class-Wide and Outrageous
Miracle Debt’s behavior with respect to Plaintiffs reﬂects Miracle Debt’s common and customary business practices in the State of Missouri. Miracle Debt’s dealings with Plaintiffs mirror Miracle Debt’s dealings with the class members.
In dealing with Plaintiffs and the class members, Miracle Debt knew that these people were in ﬁnancial duress and were susceptible to being taken in by Miracle Debt’s predatory tactics.
The conduct of Miracle Debt when it dealt with Plaintiffs and the class members, especially given Miracle Debt’s deceptive and unfair advertising and sales techniques, Miracle Debt’s mischaracterization of the Agreement, and Miracle Debt’s repeated and unlawful assessment of fees, was outrageous in that Miracle Debt displayed a reckless indifference to the rights of Plaintiffs and the class members. – Source
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