by Structured Settlement Watchdog®
Bethesda's Access Funding has been raked over the coals on page one of the Washington post for alleged predatory behavior targeting Baltimore's lead-poisoned poor blacks with structured settlements, including the late Freddie Gray. The Washington Post's Terrence McCoy's thoughtful in depth expose attempts to shine a bright light on what he calls the little-noticed, effectively unregulated netherworld of structured settlements". (emphasis added).
McCoy asserts that Baltimore has become a prime target. It’s here that one teen — diagnosed with “mild mental retardation,” court records show — sold her payments through 2030 in four deals and is now homeless. He says" it's here that companies blanket certain neighborhoods in advertisements, searching for a potentially lucrative type of inhabitant, whose stories recall the legacy of Freddie Gray".
The Washington Post investigation reviewed thousands of pages of court records, interviewed industry insiders and 8 victims of lead of lead poisoning and concluded that Access Funding's court documents illuminate the mechanics of the settlement purchasing and how little scrutiny it receives.
Maryland’s structured settlement protection act is “substantially weaker” than in most states, according to a cite of Craig Ullman, an attorney with Washington DC's Hogan Lovells who was cited by McCoy. Maryland currently doesn’t require that settlement recipients appear in court, as Illinois’ law does. It also doesn’t make purchasing companies file their petitions in the seller’s county of residence, as in New York, Oregon and other states.
If the annuitant does not appear in court, the judge cannot ask questions, important questions. Among the allegations in lawsuits that have been filed in New York and Virginia in the last year against several different settlement purchasers , were that victims were coached by the representatives of the settlement purchaser as to what to say. Do you really think an affidavit was handwritten or dictated by the annuitant and then typed up by the law firm for the buyer? or was it a case of 'sign here, sign here'? Taking those allegations as a possibility, a judge that simply takes affidavit evidence in life impacting financial transactions cannot do a thorough enough job of determining best interest unless the annuitant appears, in my opinion.
According to the Washington Post, an alleged victim of Access Funding said she feels hunted, “like a target or something.” Settlement purchasing companies, she said, pester her with phone calls and letters. Just the other day, Rose said she opened the mailbox and there was a letter from Access Funding, which is based in Chevy Chase MD.
Court scraping is alive and well in Maryland, facilitated by Maryland’s court system which makes it easy to find the right clientele. Its case search puts lead-paint lawsuits into their own category, meaning a few keystrokes can call forth thousands of names. This unique confluence of factors constitutes the “perfect storm of bad stuff", according to a McCoy's cite of Earl Nesbitt, executive director of the National Association of Settlement Purchasers
Terrence McCoy and the Washington Post have shined in using the Post' media platform to bring national attention to the shortcomings of the structured settlement secondary market. His article demonstrates that there needs to be much better regulation of structured settlement buyers and how they solicit customers.
Read How companies make millions off lead-poisoned, poor blacks Washington Post August 25, 2015
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