Last week I received a tip from a reader who alleged the infamous Steven Craig Vanderhoof from the old Credit Exchange was now involved in selling student loan debt relief. You can see that article here.
Well thanks to a wonderful reader and tipster (send in your tips here) I think the allegation has some involvement in GetStudentDebtRelief.com and the website, Student Services, and a relationship with Victory Matters, Inc.
According to public records forwarded to me, on February 25, 2014 Victory Matters, Inc. filed suit against Student Help Services, LLP, Rebecca Ciaglia, and James Van Elswyk. Just for reference, Van Elswyk has also been associated with a number of debt relief companies.
The complaint filed by Victory Matters alleges they were screwed out of commissions from selling student loan debt relief services.
The complaint says, “Victory is a marketing company that markets student loan consolidation services.” It also says Student Help Services is “…an entity that operates a student loan document preparation company that processes student loan consolidation applications.” Both Van Elswyck and Ciaglia are refered to as “managing director, officer and employee of Student Help.”
After meeting with Student Help Van Elswyck and Ciaglia in 2013, the complaint says Victory Matters invested $328,000 in “infrastructure, advertising materials, promotional campaigns, and other necessary tangible and intangible products and services in order to perform its obligations and duties under the Contract.”
The complaint states Student Help sold its services directly to California residents, from 7-2-2013 to 12-31-2013 Student Help owed Victory $158,000 in commissions and refused to pay, and from 1-1-2014 to 2-25-2014 Student Help owed $504 in residual commissions.
By the time the lawsuit was filed by Victory Matters in 2014, the allegation is they were owed nearly a million dollars in unpaid commissions. You can read the complaint, here.
So none of that mentioned Vanderhoof, yet. Wait for it.
In a counterclaim filed by RCR Media, LLC in response to the original lawsuit, it names as plaintiffs, Victory Matters, Inc, Eugene A. Vanderhoof, and Steven Craig Vanderhoof.
The counterclaim makes the connection that RCR Media is really Student Help Services.
This suit names parties by saying:
“Counterclaimant RCR Media, LLC (“Student Help”), is a Wyoming limited liability company, doing business as Student Help Services, with its principal offices in Dallas, Texas and Delray Beach, Florida. None of the members of Student Help is a citizen of Delaware or California.
On information and belief, Counterclaim Defendant Victory Matters is a Delaware corporation with its principal office in Orange County, California.
On information and belief, Counterclaim Defendant Eugene A. Vanderhoof is a resident of Camden Wyoming, Delaware. He participates in some manner in the ownership and control of Victory Matters.
On information and belief, Counterclaim Defendant Steven Craig Vanderhoof is a resident of Orange County, California. He participates in some manner in the ownership and control of Victory Matters.”
The countersuit of course paints a different picture and claims Victory Matters did not deliver the signed client contracts to RCR Media.
“On or about July 2, 2013, Student Help and Victory Matters entered a written contract entitled “Independent Marketing Agent Agreement.” A true and correct copy of the Independent Marketing Agent Agreement is attached to this Counterclaim. (Source)
Eugene A. Vanderhoof signed the agreement on behalf of Victory Matters. The effective date of the Independent Marketing Agent Agreement was June 16, 2013.
The Independent Marketing Agent Agreement provided that Victory Matters would assist Student Help as an independent marketing agency to promote the services of Student Help to borrowers of student loans. Student Help provides document preparation services for borrowers seeking to consolidate their student loans.
Student Help delivered to Victory Matters a copy of the “Consolidation Service Agreement” that would be signed between Student Help and its clients, the borrowers of student loans. Victory Matters obtained the signatures of clients on their contracts with Student Help. A redacted copy of one such Consolidation Service Agreement, signed by a client on June 17, 2013, is attached this Counterclaim as Exhibit 2. Section 10 of the Consolidation Service Agreement provided that “I, the Client, may
cancel this contract at any time prior to being approved for Federal Student Loan Consolidation.”
When the term of the Independent Marketing Agent Agreement expired on June 15, 2014, Victory Matters did not deliver the signed client contracts to Student Help. As provided in Section 23.1 of the Independent Marketing Agent Agreement, the agreement between Student Help and Victory Matters remained in force for one year after the effective date of June 16, 2013.
Under the Independent Marketing Agent Agreement, Student Help promised to pay Victory Matters a percentage share of the fees derived from borrowers who did business with Student Help as a result of the efforts of Victory Matters. A result of this promise was that Victory Matters had a financial incentive to prevent clients from cancelling their agreements with Student Help. If a client were to cancel his or her agreement, the fees would be refunded, and Victory Matters would lose its share of those fees and also any future fees that might otherwise by paid by the client.
Student Help suffered an interruption to its cash flow when merchant banks terminated the accounts of Student Help in December 2013 and refused to open new accounts. Student Help relied upon its merchant banking accounts to process automated payments from clients, including debit and credit card payments. On information and belief, the banks terminated the accounts of Student Help and refused to open new accounts because of a history of unacceptably high rates of “NSF” (or “not sufficient funds”) and declined transactions with clients.
Victory Matters substantially contributed to the unacceptably high rates of NSF and declined payment transactions involving clients of Student Help. Victory Matters did this, by misleading clients into believing that they could not cancel their contracts with Student Help, and by failing to respond promptly to inquiries from clients who wanted to cancel.
Dissatisfied clients who believed that they could not cancel their contracts, or whose inquiries were not promptly answered, simply closed or drained their own banking or credit accounts, rather than continuing to pay for services that the clients no longer wanted to buy. That led to their payment transactions with Student Help being declined.
Beginning in December 2013, after Student Help had lost its merchant banking accounts and the ability to draw payments from clients by automated transactions, Victory Matters and Steven Craig Vanderhoof then solicited and induced clients of Student Help to enter new contracts – with another firm or firms – for providing document preparation services in seeking to consolidate their student loans. One such firm trades under the fictitious business name of “Student Loan Services.US.”
On information and belief, Victory Matters and Steven Craig Vanderhoof have derived and may continue to derive substantial revenues from inducing clients of Student Help to enter new contracts with other firms, such as Student Loan Service.US.” – Source
Eventually They Worked It Out
By October of 2014 the parties worked out a agreement to settle this matter, and this is where Steven Vanderhoof put his signature on the line.
Under this agreement, RCR Media would pay Victory Matters “a commission of 50% of revenues dervied by RCR Media after October 18, 2014 from customers signed by Victory Matters for RCR Media prior to January 1, 2014.” – Source
So all of that appears to confirm the claims of the tipster (send in your tips here) last week and tie Steven Vanderhoof to the student loan services sales.
One More Thing
About two weeks ago, it appears AEL Financial filed a Writ of Execution to ask the United States Marshall to make Contact with Steven Vanderhoof over an unpaid judgment against Vanderhoof and Credit Exchange. – Source