It was just brought to my attention that the issue between the debt settlement group World Law and The State of North Carolina is still going on. There was even a recent amended complaint filed by the State.
In the latest round of public documents the State makes the following claims in its June 25, 2014 filing.
The general allegations are the same as we’ve heard time and time again. The statement is the advance fee debt settlement service don’t work and were marketed in a deceptive manner.
“In reality, the defendants are operating an illegal debt settlement enterprise.
Almost all of the defendants’ operations — including most telephone and e-mail communications with consumers, correspondence with consumers’ creditors, and the few settlements the defendants obtain — are performed by and through employees of defendant Orion Processing, LLC (“Orion”), located in a call center facility in Austin, Texas. Many of these call center employees are held out by the defendants to consumers as being “legal assistants,” and the employees tell consumers that they are part of a law firm they identify as “World Law Group;” however, these call center employees of defendant Orion are not attorneys and have no legal training. Instead, defendant Orion, itself and through a predecessor, has engaged in marketing and providing debt settlement services for almost a decade.
Notwithstanding the defendants’ repeated representations that they are a “law firm” with “over 1000 local attorneys” providing debt settlement services and legal advice, North Carolina consumers report that they have never spoken with, communicated with, or received any debt settlement services from any person affiliated with the defendants who has identified himself or herself as licensed to practice law in North Carolina, even when consumers have specifically requested referral to a North Carolina-licensed attorney. Instead, virtually all of the defendants’ specious services are performed by non-attorneys, and the true identities and full contact information of the few attorneys involved with the defendants are rarely, if ever, disclosed to consumers.
When consumers are sued by their creditors seeking to collect on debts consumers have enrolled in the defendants’ program, but which the defendants have failed to settle or pay, the defendants take their illegal scheme to yet another level. The defendants instruct worried consumers to forward any creditor lawsuits to them, and assure consumers they will protect them, telling consumers such things as, “[Y]ou will have experienced debt settlement consultants and Attorneys on your side [if you are sued].”
Inst ead, in response to creditors’ suits, the defendants prepare unabashedly false answers, other pleadings, and discovery responses that are boilerplate and virtually identical in every case,r egardless of the consumer’s individual circumstances. These false pleadings have been filed in hundreds of cases that have pended or are pending in North Carolina courts and serve to materially subvert the judicial process. Upon information and belief, these false pleadings are prepared by or at the direction of defendant Bradley James Haskins (“Haskins”), who is licensed as an attorney in Texas, but is not licensed in North Carolina. Defendant Orion’s call center employees — representing they are “legal assistants” — then e-mail, fax, or mail these false and ineffectual pleadings to consumers with instructions to file the documents with courts pro se. In some instances, the defendants have signed consumers’ signatures on purported pro se pleadings and sent the pleadings to creditors’ counsel.”
“From October 2010 through February 2013, the latest month for which the Attorney General has analyzed payment records, at least 813 North Carolina consumers had paid more than $4,105,681.00 into the defendants’ debt settlement program for settlement of their debts. Of this amount, the defendants had already retained more than $2,643,341.00 for themselves for their fees, accounting for more than 64% of consumers’ payments, and had paid only $527,328.00, or less than 13% of what North Carolina consumers had paid, to consumers’ creditors.”
Wow. Can This Really Be True?
“On August 6, 2013, articles of incorporation were filed with the North Carolina Secretary of State, creating the North Carolina corporation defendant World Law South, Inc. (“World Law South”). Upon information and belief, these articles of incorporation for World Law South were filed at the direction of defendant Haskins, in an effort by the defendants to continue their illegal debt settlement scheme, and in a bad faith attempt by the defendants to evade this Court’s Preliminary Injunction Order by doing business under yet another name.”
“Since the plaintiffs’ filing of their Complaint, defendants Orion and Scott, in active concert with defendants Haskins and World Law South, have flagrantly continued their debt settlement scheme in direct violation of this Court’s Preliminary Injunction Order by continuing to engage in the unauthorized practice of law in North Carolina, and in unfair and deceptive practices, including but not limited to: preparing and providing pleadings to North Carolina consumers for filing in North Carolina courts; providing legal advice to consumers, including providing statements to North Carolina consumers to read in open court asserting legal defenses and requesting arbitration; and purporting to represent North Carolina consumers in arbitration proceedings. The defendants also have failed to comply with this Court’s Preliminary Injunction Order by failing to notify North Carolina consumers that they are enjoined from providing legal services to North Carolina consumers, including preparing pleadings or providing legal advice, and that consumers should consult with a North Carolina licensed attorney if they need legal services or advice.”
“The purpose of this Amended Complaint is: (a) to join as additional defendants (i)
defendant Haskins, who has been identified through discovery and from other investigation as the person directing and controlling the unlawful litigation activities of the defendants, including acting as the “Chairman” of the purported “law firm” “World Law Group,” which has not been determined to have any legal existence apart from defendant Haskins individually and for which the defendants have failed to provide proof of its purported legal existence; and (ii) defendant World Law South, through which the defendants are now conducting many of their illegal activities; as well as (b) to amend certain allegations and claims in the plaintiffs’ Complaint based upon ongoing discovery and investigation by the plaintiffs since the Complaint’s filing.”
This bit from the AC helps to shed some light on the elusiveness of World Law Group.
“Defendant Haskins holds himself out as”Chairman” and managing agent of a purported law firm “World Law Group.” “World Law Group” is held out by the defendants to consumers as the “law firm” providing services under consumers’ debt settlement contracts. Defendants have represented on various occasions that “World Law Group” is either a Swiss verein or a United States limited liability company known either as World Law Group, LLP or World Law Group America, LLP. Notwithstanding the defendants’ representations, “World Law Group” has no known legal existence apart from defendant Haskins and the remaining defendants, and the defendants have failed to provide any documentation showing that any entity named “World Law Group” affiliated with any of the defendants exists. Instead, after exercising due diligence, all evidence available to the Attorney General and the State Bar has shown that “World Law Group” is merely an assumed name used by all of the defendants under and through which they conduct their illegal debt settlement enterprise.”
To make the World Law situation even more confusing the AC states, “There is a consortium of international law firms known as World Law Group. This consortium is organized as a Delaware nonprofit corporation named World Law Group, Ltd. World Law Group, Ltd. owns a trademark registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office for “World Law Group.” Wo r l d Law Group, Ltd. maintains a website at www.theworldlawgroup.com and www.theworldlawgroup.org. World Law Group has no connection with and is unrelated to any of the defendants.”
I invite you to read the full complaint if you want to spend time reading 68 pages.
I did find the exhibit H interesting since it says, “at a recent United State Organization for Bankruptcy Alternatives (USOBA) conference” but I can’t recall the last time USOBA actually had a meeting.
And then this in interesting, it’s an affidavit of Tracy Parsons, an attorney. She states:
“3. I was licensed to practice law in Texas in May 2002 and in Georgia in 1997.
4. I am an active member in good standing of the State Bar of Texas.
5. My Texas Bar Card Number is 24034617.
6. In 2010. I responded to a craigslist advertisement seeking someone to perform legal research. I had a telephone interview with a person who identified himself as Brad Haskins. Mr. Haskins hired me to work for World Law as a contract employee. Clients were not referred to me by World Law; clients paid World Law directly and World Law then paid me.
7. According to my recollection and records, I worked on several different cases for World Law. These cases mainly involved family law matters. However, I also worked on several civil litigation cases. Pursuant to my representation of World Law clients, I attended a mediation, drafted a motions, responded to motions for summary judgment, and appeared in court on the motions for summary judgment. I also negotiated settlements prior to any litigation on debt cases with Chase Bank.
8. My association with World Law and Brad Haskins ended around August of 2012.
9. Throughout the course of my representation of World Law clients, I spoke with Brad Haskins on the phone several times and received emails from Beth Barton.
10. At no point during my association with World Law did I give them, Brad Haskins, Beth Barton, any other person, or any other company permission to use my name or imply that I was representing parties in North Carolina or in any state other than Texas or Georgia in a debt collection matter.
11. During my association with World Law, I was paid through a PayPal account.
12. I have never given Mr. Haskins, World Law Group, or any person, firm or entity that uses the name “World Law” permission to use my name in whole or in part.
13. It was recently brought to my attention that a person, group, or firm that identifies itself by the name “World Law Group” has sent letters to creditors on behalf of North Carolina debtors purporting to be signed by a person named Mike Campbell, who states that he is an attorney, a sample copy of which is attached to this affidavit as Exhibit A. This letter states that Tracy Parsons is also one of the attorneys representing the debtor. I am not representing debtors as an attorney with the World Law Group in North Carolina or anywhere, nor have I ever done so. I have never given World Law Group or Brad Haskins or any other persons, firms or entities using “World Law” in any manner perinission to use my name or signature, in whole or in part, for any reason.
14. Other than the aforementioned cases, I have never had any dealings, agreements, or other arrangements with Mike Campbell or any other attorney or person associated with the World Law Group or Brad Haskins. I have not given any permission to Mike Campbell, Brad Haskins, any other person, or the World Law Group or any other entity to use my name or to suggest or imply that I have any relationship with World Law Group or any debtor that World Law Group or the named attorneys purport to represent,
15. Until a letter like Exhibit A was brought to my attention, I was unaware of its existence or that I was shown as an attorney representing debtois in association with World Law Group. I did not receive a copy of this letter contemporaneously with when it was sent. I have never received a copy of any other similar letter or communication from World Law Group or anv of the named persons in this letter.
16. Upon being informed that my name was being used in letters like Exhibit A, I requested for World Law to stop using my name. On one occasion World Law responded that the “Tracy Parsons” referred to in the letter is a different Tracy Parsons working as an attorney for World Law.”
You can read all the exhibits, here.