Yesterday a U.S. Attorney announced criminal charges against debt settlement company owners and employees for fraudulently selling debt relief services to consumers in financial trouble.
The Indictment laid out a pattern of activity that many inside debt settlement companies will recognize, if they swivel their chair around.
Sadly, what has been assumed to be the normal way to run a debt settlement company is really a criminal enterprise. Even an attorney was criminally charged and faces significant jail time as the result of items laid out in this article.
And if you think guilty verdicts are not coming and they will get away, think again. In the action announced yesterday, two debt settlement company employees have pled guilty already.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau also took action yesterday and named an additional lawyer in their vil action against the debt settlement company.
The issues surround some major areas, including lying about fees, lying about results and lying or omitting information when selling debt settlement services.
Since this story broke, insiders have been contacting me for help to protect themselves and blow the whistle on illegal debt settlement operations.
Does any of this sound familiar to you? Here are some examples of what insiders are telling me:
“They sell everyone on the fact that this is “President Obama’s Forgiveness Plan” to help America get out from underneath their student loan debt.”
“Debt clients, are misled by thinking they too will save money in the long run. What [Redacted] doesn’t tell the consumer, is that by the end of the program, they will NEVER finish in the time frame allotted. EVER. No account that has ever gone to term with [Redacted] that has ever completed with the exact number of payment they started with, or with every account settling for 40% or less. Even if they are, the arbitrators are told to “spin in” and “put out the fire” to save the client so he can keep collecting the fees associated with it. The contract clearly states that the fees will be taken out over the first 2/3 of the program. That is DEFINETELY not the case. There are clients that are finishing up their programs or have just finished, that have paid not only their monthly maintenance fee every month since they started, but also an Admin fee as well.”
“The biggest thing and how they get the client to commit is because they find out first how much they are paying monthly, and then “quote” them a program that meets that or beats that. Most of the time, since the client is having a hard time affording what they are paying, their monthly payment is usually about $100 or more, less than what they are currently paying.”
And I think this statement from an insider is mostly what I’m hearing today:
I just can’t do it anymore. I can’t handle the lying to the clients when we are supposed to be trying to help them, and I can’t deal with the stress of knowing that my name is on all of this and I could get into a crapload of trouble for all of this and he will still be sitting pretty because he will just throw his employees under the bus.
So here is my advice on how to avoid long jail time if you are a debt settlement employee.
- Realize that debt settlement employees are being criminally charged.
- Get out ahead of any activity you feel is deceptive and illegal by reporting it.
- You can contact me and tell your story and provide any documentation to support your story.
- I will connect you with a high level regulator who can take action.
- You should also contact your state attorney general office and file a complaint about the activities at the company that concern you.
- Working closely with the regulators to take action will put you in a position of being a whistleblower and not being a willing participant in the conspiracy.
Take action today.
It appears Michael Levitis, the guy behind Mission Settlement Agency who was criminally charged, blamed the problems on rogue employees. “Jeffrey Lichtman, a lawyer for the company’s owner, Michael Levitis, said he was victimized by “rogue employees who were acting like cowboys in a sense.”
When the ship starts to sink the workers are the first to blame.
You don’t want to wind up like these debt settlement employees did on the U.S. Attorney website.
LEVITIS, 36, of Brooklyn, New York, KURLYAND, 30, of Brooklyn, New York, SHULMAN, 27, of Brooklyn, New York, and CRUZ, 30, of Brooklyn, New York, are each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, one count of wire fraud, and one count of mail fraud. Each defendant faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison on each count.
LEMBERSKIY, 29, of Staten Island, New York, and SHIRINOV, 29, of Brooklyn, New York, each pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, one count of mail fraud, and one count of wire fraud. They each face a statutory maximum sentence of 60 years in prison.
Debt settlement companies that are doing bad things have a new group in players in town to deal with other than just the FTC. The CFPB and U.S. Attorney are not playing around.