by Structured Settlement Watchdog®
Some cash now pushers routinely pay financial incentives to structured settlement annuitants as an inducement to sell their valuable financial asset. The absence of anti-kickback legislation has resulted in frequency of epic proportions and the amounts of kickbacks in staggering multiples compared to anti-kickback levels associated with any other legitimate financial business.
Merriam Webster defines a bribe as "something valuable (such as money) that is given in order to get someone to do something" or "money or favor given or promised in order to influence the judgment or conduct of a person in a position of trust"
So by the Merriam-Webster definition, are what the cash now pushers are offering bribes? We're clearly way beyond toasters dude.
What are the ethics of such payments?
Sample of inducements offered by Cash Now Pushers to Structured Settlement Annuitants and Annuity Holders and live on websites at time of posting:
- Sierra Capital Funding Free Ipad and $250 Gift Certificate
- Sell Your Annuity LLC $250 Fedexed to you just for a quote on your structured settlement ostensibly hoping that "Money CAN Buy Your Love".
- Sunshine Settlement Funding Ipad Air
If cash now pushers are deemed to be offering bribes when they engage in this activity and much of this being conducted across state lines and/or on the Internet, what should be done about it? What state or federal agencies regulate this? What's the point of limiting gifts in excess of $25 when an annuity is placed when the cash now pushers can freely bribe and offer financial incentives like a $700 IPad?
Compare this with these companies' competitors:
- Olive Branch Funding offers a single $50 American Express gift card just for calling them on their toll-free number
- Singer Asset Funding offers a single $50 gift card just for calling them on their toll-free number for a free appraisal.
In my opinion, once the inducement get beyond a certain dollar amount there is a greater potential to influence decision making and disincent the seller from shopping around for the best deal or at least getting a competitive bid. Isn't that just good business for the payers of the inducements? Yes, but isn't this about the consumer?
Consider the following examples of how other industries and industry segments regulate gifts that should gie readers and regulators pause:
A. In August 2012, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill that allows property/casualty insurers, brokers and agents to give gifts worth up to $25 to insureds or prospective clients during the insurance sales process.
The August 2012 amendment changed the existing anti-rebating provisions. Rebating, lowering commission or offering any valuable consideration or inducement for insureds or prospective clients have traditionally been prohibited in the state — with the only exception being keepsake gifts valued at less than $15.
B. Florida, the state where the corporate officers of many cash now pushers are located, Statute 626.9541 explicitly states Advertising gifts permitted.—No provision of paragraph (f), paragraph (g), or paragraph (h) shall be deemed to prohibit a licensed insurer or its agent from giving to insureds, prospective insureds, and others, for the purpose of advertising, any article of merchandise having a value of not more than $25
C. Medicare Guidelines Gifts
When enacting the "no gifts" rule, the legislative history shows giving valuable gifts raised quality and cost concerns. Economic incentives could lead to unnecessary, cheaper, or lower quality care. (See Reference 2, page 1) The OIG interprets the legislation (section 1128A(a)(5) of the Social Security Act) as allowing inexpensive gifts or services, other than cash or cash equivalents, to no more than $10 retail value per individual gift and $50 per patient annually. (See Reference 2, page 2)
Read more : http://www.ehow.com/list_6897978_medicare-guidelines-gifts.html
D. National Council of State Legislators Gift Restrictions (April 30, 2014)
"Many states place the greatest restrictions on gifts from lobbyists to legislators. In some states, these restrictions take the form of a general prohibition or gift ban. Generally, non-lobbyists are not completely prohibited from giving gifts, but are limited to certain monetary values. Most states also specifically state that no one shall offer and no legislator shall accept any gift or anything of value in return for being influenced in the performance of the legislator's duties"
E. View a State by State List of Anti-Rebating Laws for Fee Based Broker and Consultants.
F. Florida History of Anti-Rebating
G FINRA 2310 Gifts that do not exceed an annual amount per person fixed periodically by FINRA [$100 in 2014] and are not preconditioned on achievement of a sales target.
Some hard hitting general questions...
What is so special about making payoffs to structured settlement annuitants by any cash now pusher, that renders such payments not subject to same level of scrutiny and/or regulation that is decribed above?
What is so special about making payoffs to structured settement annuitants by any cash now pusher to induce someone to commit a fraud, such as taking steps to create the illusion of domicile in Florida and gain access to the Sumter County courthouse, that renders such payments not subject to same level of scrutiny and/or regulation that is decribed above?
Ban this stuff or limit it. The marketing expense can be used in other more ethical ways in my opinion.
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