by Structured Settlement Watchdog
I received a complaint today about a factoring company contacting a structured settlement annuitant with a caller ID that said Weber Locksmith. The telephone number was 561-972-5458 and the person on the other end of the line was a soliciting business for Access Funding, a company recently started by "founder of the structured settlement factoring industry", Lee Jundanian.
I telephoned the Jupiter, Florida phone number myself, after a competitor of this company said that this apparent " trompe d'oeil " caller ID was used on 3 separate occasions. The person who answered was named Scott and he confirmed that he was with Access Funding. I then contacted Access Funding's toll-free number from its website, hung up and shortly thereafter received a call from a Verizon wireless number with Caller ID blocked and Southfield Michigan number and "beam me up", it was Scotty from Access Funding!
I then learned from this afternoon that another factoring company who spoke with a senior citizen from Maryland and heard how she was recently blitzed from different area codes until she finally picked up.
In the 3 instances involving Access Funding, I understand that transfer petitions were already already filed with the applicable courts with Access' competitor so it's natural to assume that the annuitant's information (if they had not sold previously to Access) came from a direct cull of the court records, or through the purchase of data mined from a service similar to what I wrote about in a recent blog post.
The purpose of this post is to make the public aware of a sales tactic that is being used. I'm not saying it is illegal. What I am saying is that it is abusive, in my opinion. Blocked caller IDs and a caller ID that doesn't even represent who you are is not OK in my book. How about yours?
It is just one more pock mark on the unregulated structured settlement secondary market that is worth speaking about with state and federal government agencies and regulators about, along with forum shopping and how such settlement buyers, such as the others we've written about, can promote themselves among other things using fake IDs, fraudulent academic credentials, fake testimonials, false and misleading advertising and more.
When there be enforceable rules with teeth that protect consumers?
On November 21, 2016, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) filed a complaint in federal district court against Access Funding, LLC for an illegal scheme in which victims of lead-paint poisoning and others were deceived into signing away future settlement payments in exchange for a significantly lower lump-sum payout. The CFPB alleges that Access Funding steered victims to receive “independent advice” from a sham advisor, an attorney who was actually paid directly by the company and indicated to consumers that the transactions required little scrutiny. In its suit, the CFPB seeks to put an end to the company’s unlawful practices, obtain relief for the harmed consumers, and impose penalties.
“Many of these struggling consumers were victimized first by toxic lead, and second by a company that saw them as little more than income streams to be courted and harvested,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “The Consumer Bureau is fighting to help vulnerable consumers who were swindled out of their settlements, and to prevent future abuses.”
Access Funding is a structured-settlement-factoring company based in Chevy Chase, Md., that operated nationwide. The CFPB’s lawsuit names Access Funding and a successor company, Reliance Funding. The lawsuit also names four individuals: Michael Borkowski, CEO of Access Funding; Raffi Boghosian, Chief Operating Officer of Access Funding; Lee Jundanian, CEO of Access Funding from February 2013 to May 2014; and Charles Smith, a Maryland-based attorney who purportedly provided advice for almost all Maryland consumers who did business with Access Funding.