I’m going to say it, sometimes it does feel good to be proven right. One such example is that of the non-profit credit counseling group United Financial Services run by Christopher Boulahanis.
Back in April of 2010 I published a warning, Debt Management Plan With United Financial Systems Runs Off the Rails. And so it did.
Between then and now a large number of consumers were hurt by UFS. They had made monthly payments as directed but neither their creditors were paid nor refunds promptly issued. Eventually United Financial Systems set a record for the most number of complaints and faced legal actions in other states.
In December 2011 Christopher Boulahanis and the Florida Attorney General reached an agreement. On February 29, 2011 a stipulated permanent injunction and final judgment was entered into court records.
Under this judgment against United Financial Systems and Chris Boulahanis the parties agreed that United Financial Systems was “directed and managed by Boulahanis and engaged in acts that were misleading, unfair, deceptive, or unconscionable in the marketing, advertising, and performance of its business in the debt management business.”
In addition to not paying money to creditors on a prompt basis, Boulahanis was also charging a set-up fee of $75 and a monthly fee of up to $69 for the debt management clients. Those fees were illegal under Florida law.
Boulahanis was found individually liable for the wrongful conduct of United Financial Systems.
Christopher Boulahanis and United Financial Systems, “as well as their officers, agents, servants, employees, and attorneys and on those persons in active concert or participation with them who receive actual notice of this Order, directly or indirectly, from the following:
- Marketing, advertising, selling, providing, processing, or contracting for or in connection with any debt management and/or debt consolidation services.
UFS and Boulahanis agreed to pay $530,881.47 in restitution to be distributed to injured consumers.
On top of that, UFS and Christopher Boulahanis agreed to pay $500,000 “given the blatant nature of the violation and the egregiousness of the consumer harm.”
And then we can’t overlook the additional $35,000 due the State of Florida for fees and costs in this matter.
The agreement was witnessed by Robby Birnbaum of Greenspoon Marder as attorney for UFS and Boulahanis.
You can read the entire judgment here.
And What About These Companies?
But even though Boulahanis appears to have agreed to not be involved with any additional debt relief companies, Chris Boulahanis is listed as an officer of the following additional Florida companies. Maybe the approach is that debt settlement is not managing debt?
It will be interesting to see how this judgment impacts those companies considering the ban Boulahanis agreed to.