1 month 3 weeks ago

OCWEN/US Bank Jury Awards Homeowner Damages of $3.5 Million
Jury punishes OCWEN/U.S. Bank National for atrocious record-keeping (this is not the first time OCWEN has been exposed for intentional malice)
OCWENMs. Saccameno filed a chapter 13 bankruptcy to save her home.  She followed the chapter 13 plan and brought the mortgage current, ultimately receiving her hard-earned discharge.  Life should have been great, but OCWEN/U.S. Bank began harassing Mr. Saccameno with dire threats of foreclosure (even though she had paid all her mortgage payments).  Ms. Saccameno and her attorney sent OCWEN/U.S. Bank hundreds of pages proving that her payments were current, but they were ignored. Ms. Saccameno filed a lawsuit and claimed damage.
OCWEN was already under a consent decree for shoddy servicing
At trial OCWEN/U.S. Bank tried to blame their employees.  But, the court found “Ocwen cannot pin this case on Marla (an employee). Her error was one among a host of others, and each error was compounded by Ocwen’s obstinate refusal to correct them.” The jury awarded Ms. Saccameno $582,000 in compensatory damages, $3 million in punitive damages.  The judge agreed that OCWEN/U.S. Bank had “atrocious record-keeping”, but that, constitutionally, she must reduce the punitive to an amount equal to compensatory – $582,000 (case has judge’s detailed analysis of constitutional principles governing the award of punitive damages – a must-read for lawyers).
U.S. Bank

What is a ‘shakedown’?  One definition is “swindle or extortion”. When a bank or any large entity knowingly abuses their power, that is the same as loan shark breaking someone’s legs in an attempt to collect money, which may or may not be owed to them.  This is true for OCWEN.  Over the last several years, courts and administrative agencies have found OCWEN used deception to deprive many of their customers of money or their home.

How Can I Help You?
The post OCWEN/US Bank fined $3 million for reprehensible conduct for attempted wrongful foreclosure appeared first on Diane L. Drain - Phoenix Bankruptcy & Foreclosure Attorney.

1 month 3 weeks ago

The Epic Rise and Hard Fall of New
York's Taxi King
By Brian M. Rosenthal
Dec. 5, 2019

Evgeny A. Freidman in his garage in Long Island City, Queens. Sasha Maslov
The man known as the Taxi King arrived at his 2014 holiday party in a $384,000 Ferrari, wearing a custom Italian suit. He told the guests
whom he had invited to an upscale Manhattan club - including executives, politicians and celebrities - that he had flown in from SaintJean-
Cap-Ferrat, a town in the French Riviera where he owned two villas.
Five years later, that man, Evgeny A. Freidman, stood in a mostly empty courtroom in Albany, N.Y., as a judge sentenced him to probation
for tax fraud. In a hushed voice, he said he had lost everything.
"I'm trying to be remorseful and understanding for anybody I might have harmed;' he told the judge at the hearing in October. "I'm very
humbled by what has happened."
For more than a decade, New York taxi industry leaders got rich by creating a bubble in the market for the city permits, known as
medallions, that allow people to own and operate cabs.
In several articles this year, an mvest1gat10n by I he New York limes found that government officials stood by as mdustry leaders
artmciio~tiji\laAe~~$Uiffia§atr!d5:hanneled immigrant drivers into loans they could not afford to purchase the permits. The lea(iers
reaped hundreds of millions of dollars before the bubble burst, wiping out thousands of buyers who are still mired in debt today.

And no one embodies the glittery rise, unfettered recklessness and spectacular collapse of the industry more than Mr. Freidman.

A Russian immigrant and a cabdriver's son who got his nickname by building the city's biggest fleet, Mr. Freidman was a primary
architect of some of the tactics used to build the bubble, according to records and interviews. At the height of the market, he had
accumulated $525 million in assets. He befriended the filmmaker Spike Lee, the baseball star Mo Vaughn and Mayor Bill de Blasio. His
outsize antics and lavish spending often landed him on Page Six, the New York Post's gossip column.
As a generation of cabdrivers became trapped in overwhelming debt, Mr. Freidman created offshore trusts that protected some of his
money when the bubble burst, records show. While his business partners lost millions because of his tax fraud, Mr. Freidman avoided
prison by cooperating with a federal investigation into one of his partners, Michael D. Cohen, President Trump's former lawyer.
"He hurt so many people in so many different ways;' said David Pollack, the former head of the Committee for Taxi Safety, an association
of fleet owners that once included Mr. Freidman. "Your headline could be: 'The man who brought down the taxi industry.'"
Mr. Freidman did not respond to repeated requests for comment. Government officials declined to answers questions on why they did not
intervene sooner.
This account is based on interviews with more than 20 of Mr. Freidman's former associates and a review of thousands of pages of court
records and other documents.
Mr. Freidman is now cooperating with prosecutors who started investigating the taxi industry after The Times published its series this
year on the exploitative tactics that drove medallion prices to soar past $1 million by 2014 from $200,000 in 2002. He has met with them
three times so far.
'I'm in , you 'r e out'
Mr. Freidman, 49, who is known as Gene, likes to portray himself as a scrappy fighter who rose from first-generation immigrant to
multimillionaire solely through his wits and fists.
But like everything involving Mr. Freidman, the reality is more complicated.
He was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1970, an only child. Six years later, his family emigrated to New York, he has said in interviews.
His father, who Mr. Freidman said had been a thermonuclear engineer, got a job as a cabdriver but soon began buying medallions and
building a fleet, records show.
Mr. Freidman attended the Bronx High School of Science, Skidmore College and Cardozo Law School. Afterward, he has said, he moved to
Russia to work in private investing.
Mr. Freidman has said in speeches that he returned to the United States in 1996 at the request of his father, who had become a successful
and respected fleet owner. During the flight home, he crafted a plan to use what he learned in Russia to revolutionize the taxi industry.
His idea was straightforward: He wanted the industry to take more risks to increase profits.
Specifically, Mr. Freidman has said he wanted lenders to allow medallion purchasers to borrow more money, with smaller down payments
and longer repayment periods. Former associates said he believed this strategy would allow him and others to buy more medallions,
enable lenders to increase profits and, mostly, drive up medallion values. He believed that would spur more purchases, more loans, more
profits and even higher medallion values.
"I walked in and took over;' he later recalled. "I told my dad, 'I'm in, you're out.'"
Prominent - and polarizing
Mr. Freidman was 26. He was cocky, but he needed help. He turned to the small nonprofit that had lent to his father, Progressive Credit
Union, and its chief executive, who had become a family friend, Robert Familant.
Between 1997 and 2004, Progressive's loans enabled Mr. Freidman to buy about 100 medallions to expand his fleet, according to city
records and former associates.
At the same time, Mr. Freidman became a licensed broker and helped some drivers purchase medallions, mostly using loans from

Other industry leaders used similar tactics. But few were as aggressive as Mr. Freidman.
More Mr Freidman's success emboldened others, and helped encourage lenders to push low-income
drivers to take on massive loans to buy medallions.

"He changed the market:' said Ira Goldstein, a former chief of staff at the city commission that oversees the industry. "People copied him,
and it affected everybody, including the driver-owners."
Mr. Familant did not respond to requests for comment.
As Mr. Freidman expanded his fleet, he became increasingly prominent - and polarizing.
To his allies, Mr. Freidman was charming and passionate, with a perspective that improved a long-stagnant industry. He put his fleet in
several neighborhoods, making it more accessible for his drivers. He worked long hours. He embraced energy efficiency, becoming the
first to use hybrid cabs.
Others saw him as vindictive and vulgar. Lawsuits have accused him of cheating his drivers, clients and partners. Last year, he was
ordered to pay $1.3 million to an assistant who sued him for sexual harassment. On his desk, he kept a snow globe sprouting a middle
The highest bidder
Mr. Freidman unleashed his most radical idea on June 16, 2006, at an auction where the city sold new medallions.
At the time, a medallion cost $350,000 on the private market, according to a Times analysis. But at the auction, Mr. Freidman and his
associates bid $477,666.50 apiece.
They won all 54 medallions sold.
The results reshaped the small medallion market. In effect, Mr. Freidman single-handedly had increased the value of all medallions,
including ones he had owned for years - and also increased prices for everyone, making it harder for drivers to buy without enormous
Years later, Mr. Freidman admitted he had intentionally overpaid to inflate the values of medallions he owned. He said in a 2012 speech
that he used the values to persuade lenders to loan him more money.
"I would bid crazy prices. People would look at me like I'm crazy, and I wouldn't care:' he said, "because I would look at the prices and say,
'This is market value."'
Mr. Freidman repeated the strategy at three other auctions, records show. In all, he bought more medallions at auctions than anyone else
in city history.
Riches and power
The medallion bubble turned Mr. Freidman into a remarkably rich man.
His fleet had about 900 of the city's 13,587 medallions. Most were owned by others who charged him a fee for the right to operate their cabs
and keep the profits. He personally owned about 250 permits, and at the height of the market, each was worth $1.3 million, although they
were mortgaged, records show.
Mr. Freidman knew the prices would not last, according to five former associates. So he used the medallions as collateral to borrow money
that he invested elsewhere.
He bought 20 commercial properties, records show. He opened locations of a French whimsical pajama store in New York, Arizona,
California, Georgia and Washington state. He acquired medallions in Chicago and Philadelphia, helping to spike prices in those cities.
He bought a 4,000-square-foot townhouse on Manhattan's Upper East Side, an estate in the Hamptons and a condo in Chicago, in addition
to the French villas.
He also invested in politics. He donated to former Representative Anthony Weiner's 2013 mayoral campaign and to Mr. de Blasio. Later, he
bragged to associates that Mr. de Blasio placed one of his friends at the taxi commission.
Mayoral spokeswoman Freddi Goldstein rejected that notion. "Any suggestion that we hired anyone at his request is a blatant lie;• She said that "The mayor ceased contact with Gene Freidman as soon as he realized he was a bad guy."

Mr. Freidman also began managing Mr. Cohen's medallions. They became friends; during Mr. Freidman's divorce.

Several of Mr. Freidman's former associates said as he became wealthier, he stopped paying his debts.

During the bubble, when Mr. Freidman was worth millions, he was sued or otherwise accused of failing to fully pay his drivers, employees,
clients, partners, lawyers, contractors, landlords, lenders, an accountant and a car dealer as well as child support payments, association
dues, insurance premiums and taxes.
Between 2013 and 2016, the state ordered him to pay nearly $1.5 million for cheating drivers. But he has failed to fulfill that order, too,
records show.
The aftermath
Now that the bubble has burst, Mr. Freidman is awash in lawsuits and eviction notices.
A judge ruled in 2016 that he transferred more than $60 million into trusts in Belize, Nevis and the Cook Islands in order to avoid paying
creditors. Mr. Freidman had defended the transfers as part of estate planning. "It is impossible to conclude that the timing of the transfers
is merely coincidence;' the judge wrote in ordering the trusts to pay the creditors.
The tax fraud case, filed in 2017, involved two surcharges collected by cabs that Mr. Freidman owned and ones he managed for others: a
50-cent fee for regional transit improvements, and a 30-cent fee for more wheelchair-accessible taxis.
Officials initially accused Mr. Freidman of pocketing more than $30 million.
But after agreeing to cooperate against Mr. Cohen, he ultimately repaid $1 million to the state and $826,000 to the city. In addition to five
years of probation, he had to exit the industry and authorize officials to seek $4 million more in the future. (Mr. Cohen is now serving a
three-year sentence for campaign finance violations and other crimes.)
"He no longer has any involvement whatsoever in taxi operations in New York City. He's done;• said Allan J. Fromberg, a spokesman for
the city Taxi and Limousine Commission.
The city and the state have also demanded millions from the owners who entrusted medallions to Mr. Freidman's fleet, even though they
did not know about the scheme or benefit from it. The taxi commission did not respond to questions about the collections. The state
attorney general's office, which prosecuted the tax fraud case, declined to comment, citing its ongoing investigation into the industry.
"It's unbelievable;' said one owner, Robert Rosen, 72.
Mr. Rosen, who said he committed his medallion to Mr. Freidman because he knew his father, lost $30,000. "The things the government
has let this crook get away with. It's shocking!'
Susan Beachy contributed research.

1 month 3 weeks ago

In a previous article, Wynn at Law, LLC, highlighted why the holidays are an ideal time to discuss your estate planning needs. The old adage ‘there’s no time like the present’ holds true with estate planning. So, here is a little more detail on the most common, and sometimes overlooked, planning tool: The Will.
There are three types of wills about which you should give some thought. The Last Will and Testament is what most people know about and refer to generally as a “Will.” In addition to the Last Will and Testament, there is also a Living Will and a Pourover Will.
The Last Will and Testament
There are dozens of online templates that suggest you can do this yourself. The problem with that is simple: How many have you done? An experienced attorney will help you create a legally binding document that specifically suits your needs, expresses what your final wishes are, and is tailored to Wisconsin law. That’s so important, because the tool speaks for you after you pass on, directing how you want assets divided and appointing who will be in charge of acting on your estate’s behalf.
The Living Will
The Last Will and Testament becomes effective at your passing, while the Living Will speaks for you when you are unable to speak for yourself due to injury or illness. This document makes known your wishes regarding life prolonging medical treatments. This tool, also called an advanced directive, is every bit as important as the Last Will and Testament. However, a University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia study found that less than a third of adults have a Living Will.
The Pourover Will
We’re covering Trusts next in this series, but you should know that this particular tool can save the day for your loved ones. When you forget or neglect to add all property into your planning documents over the years– and people do forget to go back and revise their estate plan when circumstances change – this tool puts the forgotten property into a Trust. This tool got its name because any assets you failed to title into your trust prior to your passing will “pour over” into the trust after you are gone.
Stay up to date
You’re going to want to review all of these Wills and your wishes periodically, too, because ‘life happens.’ In the following two articles on the Estate Planning Toolbox, Wynn at Law, LLC, guides you through Trusts and Powers of Attorney.
The post Your Estate Planning Toolbox: The Will appeared first on Wynn at Law, LLC.

1 month 3 weeks ago

Mortgage Law Group and Consumer First Legal Group to pay $59 Million for Scamming Consumers
$59 million dollar judgment for deliberately scheming to evade the law and cause harm to their clients
mortgage fraudAccording to an article in, 11/6/19, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau “CFPB” won a $59 Million dollar judgment (restitution and civil penalties) against The Mortgage Law Group, LLP, Consumer First Legal Group, LLC, Thomas G. Macey, Jeffery J. Aleman, Jason E. Searns and Harold E. Stafford (case 3:14-cv-00513-WMC, order filed 11/4/19 (see “Read More” link below for the Order).
This lawsuit took almost five years to find some final (we can only hope) resolution
This lawsuit started in 2014, wound through at least two bankruptcies, multiple orders to finally conclude on November 4, 2019, that CFLG I and II, Harold Stafford, Thomas Macey, Jeffery Aleman, and Jason Searns must disgorge “ill-gotten gains”. Neither company is currently in operation, plus Macey and Aleman have had their law licenses suspended.
“Defendants used fraudulent misrepresentations to dupe customers into purchasing in advance a service that they could have received for free”
From the Order: “Accordingly, the court finds that restitution is warranted where consumers (1) were charged advanced fees that were specifically prohibited by regulation, (2) were enticed to do so through various misrepresentations, and (3) received no measurable benefit for payment of those fees. Specifically, this results in the awards as follows against the respective defendants:

  1. TMLG, Macey, Aleman, and Searns are jointly and severally liable for restitution in the amount of $18,716,725.78, plus certain net revenue, for the advance fees that TMLG (The Mortgage Law Group) collected from consumers.
  2. CFLG (Consumer First Legal Group), Macey, and Aleman Searns are jointly and severally liable for restitution in the amount of $2,897,566 for the advanced fees that CFLG II collected from consumers.
  3. Stafford and CFLG are jointly and severally liable for restitution in the amount of $94,730 for the advanced fees that CFLG I collected from consumers.

mortgage fraud


mortgage fraudI know there are evil people stealing from the innocent.  But I see red hearing that a lawyer knowingly ripping off their clients.  Lying, cheating and stealing from your clients is like your doctor giving you a prescription because he/she gets a kick-back from the drug manufacturer.  Everyone has a right to rely on their lawyer or doctor.
A doctor has a duty to cause no harm to their patients and a lawyer has a duty to put their client’s interests before their own.  Mistakes happen, that is understandable.  But to intentionally harm someone is an unspeakable sin and that person will certain find his or her way to prison or hell (or hopefully both).

How Can I Help You?
The post Mortgage Law Group to pay $59 million-scammed consumers appeared first on Diane L. Drain - Phoenix Bankruptcy & Foreclosure Attorney.

1 month 3 weeks ago

5 Signs an Online Loan is a Debt Trap
Lenders use abusive or unfair practices to trap low income into a never-ending cycle of debt.  Learn to spot the scams:
payday loanThe goal of a predatory loan (such as payday loans) is to trap the borrower in a nightmare of never-ending debt. The lenders know that no one is watching or, in some cases, cares that the poor are preyed upon by these unscrupulous lenders. Those lenders hope that their schemes to keep the poor paying outrageous interest rates, which forces them to take out more payday loans. There are a few states taking action – see State Payday Loan Reform from Pew Charitable Trusts, a nonprofit public interest group.
The following are highlights from an article by Annie Millerbernd of Nerd Wallet, November 19, 2019
Five signs of a predatory loan:

  1. No Credit Check Ads.  The lenders make it as easy a possible for the unwary borrower to get trapped in the never-ending loan cycle.
  2. Focus on Monthly Payments. Like a magician trying to distract you – the lender advertises low monthly payments but hides the length of the loan or very, very high-interest rates.
  3. Sky-High Rates.   A bad lender is one that hides the interest rate on its website or advertisement. They hope to distract you by flashing signs and soothing language offering to solve all your problems (I call this the drug dealer’s promise).  There are reports of interest rates 300% to 700%. For instance, if you borrow $10, you have to repay $50.
  4. Excessively Long or Short Repayment Periods.   Many predatory loans result in the borrower paying more than they originally borrowed (sometimes as much at 5-7 times more).
  5. All-in-one Payment Requirements.  According to Alex Horowitz, a senior research office with Pew Charitable Trusts, “the average payday loan takes 36% of a borrower’s paycheck.” If the borrower cannot make the payment (few ever can), they take another loan to pay the first loan – the cycle goes on for years until the borrower finally sells their only vehicle to pay the debt or files bankruptcy.

debt trap

payday loanDesperate people do desperate things.  Some rob to feed their family.  Others gamble their entire paycheck with the hopes of winning enough to pay the mortgage.  What most don’t do is ask for help or seek informed advice from those who care.

Is credit important in our economy?  Absolutely, but should we be more concerned with buying the latest cell phone or owning an expensive house or car (just to impress friends or family), or focus on buying only what we need and save for unexpected expenses.

Good information is always available, if only you ask. But, you must use common sense.  Never assume any advertisement is truthful.  Typically, the goal of a sale is to get as much of your money as possible, for the least cost to the seller.

How Can I Help You?
The post 5 Signs an Online Loan is a Debt Trap appeared first on Diane L. Drain - Phoenix Bankruptcy & Foreclosure Attorney.

1 month 3 weeks ago

Premier Student Loan Center, SL Account Management, Financial Preparation Services accused of deceiving federal-student-loan borrowers

Who is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) suing?
They are: Consumer Advocacy Center Inc., which does business as Premier Student Loan Center; True Count Staffing Inc., also known as SL Account Management; and Prime Consulting LLC, which is known as Financial Preparation Services. Defendants also include Albert Kim, Kaine Wen, and Tuong Nguyen.
The Bureau alleges that since at least 2015, the debt-relief companies deceived thousands of federal-student-loan borrowers and charged over $71 million in unlawful advance fees in connection with the marketing and sale of student-loan debt-relief services to consumers.
student loanAs described in the complaint, the Bureau alleges that Premier, along with its company co-defendants, violated the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010 (CFPA) and the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) by making deceptive representations about the companies’ student-loan debt-relief and modification services. Specifically, the complaint alleges that Premier charged and collected improper advance fees before consumers had received any adjustment of their student loans or made any payment toward such adjusted loan. The Bureau also alleges that the defendants engaged in deceptive practices by misrepresenting: the purpose and application of fees charged by the companies, their ability to obtain loan forgiveness, and their ability to lower consumers’ monthly payments.
Never put your student loan in forbearance without understanding the serious consequences of that choice.
The Bureau also alleges that the defendants failed to inform consumers that the companies automatically request that consumers’ loans be placed in forbearance so that consumers can better afford the companies’ significant fees and that the companies submit false information to student-loan servicers in loan-adjustment applications in an effort to qualify consumers for lower monthly payments. The Bureau also alleges the individuals substantially assisted the student-loan debt-relief companies.
Copy of Complaint
student loans

student loanWhat is the future of our country worth to you?  Are you someone who believes that as long as you got through life, then you don’t care about anyone else?  Or are you someone who believes that our future is worth focusing on now.  That we should make sure our future has educated leaders and skilled business men and women?  Right now the only people who can afford a good college education are those from wealthy families (many of these young people are self-center and entitled) or those who are willing to take on substantial student loans (even if they are working while going to school).

Student loans have become a scam – the cost to go to college has increased way above the increase in cost of living.  Colleges have become profit centers, rather than bastions committed to educating our future leaders. College advisers encourage students to borrow as much money as possible because the college makes a higher profit.

homesteadPrice of College Increasing Almost 8 Times Faster Than Wages
Here’s how much more expensive it is for you to do to college than it was for your parents

The post Deceiving Student Loan Borrowers: Premier Management & Financial Preparation Services appeared first on Diane L. Drain - Phoenix Bankruptcy & Foreclosure Attorney.

1 month 3 weeks ago

Trump Administration Wants to Remove Interest Rate Limits and Sacrifice the Consumer

New rule removes interest rate limits on subprime and payday lenders

installment loanAccording to an article in Credit Slips, posted by Adam Levitin, the Trump administration has just proposed a rule that declares open season on consumers for subprime lenders. The Office of Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation have released parallel proposed rulemakings that will effectively allow subprime consumer lending that is not subject to any interest rate regulation, including by unlicensed lenders (specifically payday lenders).

The proposed rule provides that lenders may charge whatever interest they want (currently rates are 300% and up).
The Trump administration’s proposal would allow payday lenders to make loans in every state without regard to state usury laws (or state licensing requirements and thus enforcement of other state consumer protection laws)…just as long as those lenders partner with a bank.
The author doubts there is legal authority for this proposed rule, but these payday lenders and others will get away with ignoring state law and other consumer protections until a court orders them to stop abusing the consumer. How many years will that take? How many vulnerable consumers’ will sacrifice their financial futures while waiting for the courts to act?
no interest limits

bankruptcyThe banks won’t help most consumers with financial problems, so the only option may be a payday or sub-prime lender in order to pay rent or buy food.  Until now, there were some state laws to protect the consumers.  These laws or rules had limits on interest rates, terms for the loans, etc.  Many states ran payday and sub-prime lending out that state.  Then payday and sub-prime lenders took their business on-line, with the hopes of avoiding state regulation.  Sometimes that worked, sometimes not.

Because these borrowers are mostly elderly, those on fixed income and minorities, they don’t have the financial power to pass new laws, therefore little has been done to protect them.  This proposed Trump administrative rule exposes these vulnerable consumers even more than they are today.  It empowers the payday and sub-prime lender the freedom to treat desperate borrowers anyway they like. If the payday and sub-prime lenders get in trouble, they just close their doors and open new businesses under another name.

How Can I Help You?
The post Trump Removes Interest Rate Limits and Sacrifices the Consumer appeared first on Diane L. Drain - Phoenix Bankruptcy & Foreclosure Attorney.

2 months 2 days ago

Dealing with Debt Collection Scams – several videos from Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
Dealing with debt collection issues can be challenging—especially when you’re not sure if the person you’re being contacted by is a legitimate debt collector or someone trying to scam you.
Debt Collection Scams

♦ “Protect Yourself From Debt Collection Scammers”
♦ “What is the best way to negotiate a settlement with a debt collector?”
♦ “3 Ways to Build Your Credit Score”
♦  “What homebuyers need to know about mortgage scams”
♦  “Meet Ms. Drain and Suggestions on How to Hire an Attorney”

debt collectorWhy do we have to protect ourselves from people intent on taking what is not theirs?  The only answer must be that they live in hell and hope to bring everyone else into that life so they feel better about themselves.  How do I deal with these scheming demons?  I never trust someone who calls me to solve my problems (they are just salesmen looking for a quick dollar).  Instead, I contact those I trust and ask for guidance or referrals.  Next, I trust my gut and ask lots of questions.  Most importantly, I surround myself with people who follow the golden rule “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.

How Can I Help You?
The post How to Determine Debt Collection Scam appeared first on Diane L. Drain - Phoenix Bankruptcy & Foreclosure Attorney.

2 months 5 days ago

It's almost impossible to get rid of student loan debt when filing for bankruptcy, but help may be on the way
From: Business Insider
By: Mike Brown,LendEDU

2 months 1 week ago

"A lawsuit charging that the city sold 400 taxi medallions under false pretenses about their worth and then breached its contract by letting ride-hail operators enter the market and undermine medallion values has been certified as a class-action suit.

The suit, brought by five medallion owners and filed in early October, could now apply to more than 150 medallion owners, according to Daniel Ackman, one of the lawyers for the plaintiffs. The decision in State Supreme Court in Queens County was delivered late last week.

The disputed medallions were bought at three auctions held by the Taxi and Limousine Commission in 2013 and early 2014—when prices were still astronomically high and Uber had barely dented the market. The sales netted the city $360 million.

 Mystery buyer snaps up taxi medallions as prices fall further
 Judge rules on taxi industry lawsuit: Compete with Uber or die
 Cab drivers and owners get caught in the headlights of a troubled taxi lender
Ackman is asking for the city to take back the medallions from the auction winners and return the $360 million they paid for them. The medallions' prices ranged between $803,000 and $965,000 for independent medallions and $1.025 million and $1.259 million for corporate medallions, according to the suit.

Medallions are currently selling at private auctions for less than $150,000 apiece.

"Not once before the Auctions did the City warn prospective buyers that it was about to radically change the economics of the taxi industry by allowing a massive influx of new for-hire vehicles—principally cars hailed through electronic apps—that would decimate the value of the yellow taxi medallions," attorneys write in the suit. "Nor did the TLC disclose that it would license the e-hail taxis as “black cars” despite the fact that they did not qualify for these licenses. Instead, Defendants omitted this information which, had it been known, would have dissuaded potential Auction bidders."

Both the city and the plaintiffs have asked the court for summary judgment.

The city's law department and the Taxi and Limousine Commission did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

But in a related suit brought by Ackman that is currently before the same court, the city has argued that in its contracts with the medallion owners it made no claims "as to the present or future value of a medallion, or the present or future application of TLC rules."

The city also noted that the contracts did not imply an "obligation to protect [the medallion purchasers] from competition from app-based companies such as Uber, when their contracts explicitly said otherwise, and when Uber was already operating in the market at the time of their purchases."

A private-equity firm buying up taxi medallions could take on Lyft and Uber
The city and the TLC have a good record defending themselves from the claims of medallion owners who blame them for the plunge in medallion values. In one noted case in Queens Supreme Court in 2015, a judge ruled that an e-hail was a prearranged ride--essentially what black car services have always provided--and did not conflict with medallion owners' street-hail privileges.

Ackman maintains that his case is narrower than earlier suits, applying only to medallion owners who bought the assets directly from the city, and centers on the contractual relationship between them. It is also coming at a time when there is wider recognition of the hardships medallion owners have faced--highlighted by multiple suicides--and more interest among elected officials in taking steps to help them.

A favorable ruling "could have implications beyond this case," Ackman said. "It's possible if a judge says, 'Yes, the city's conduct destroyed the value of the medallions,' that could spur other actions by the city or the state.""