Consumer Agencies Sue Scammers Targeting 9/11 First Responders and NFL Concussion Victims
The agencies claim that the scammers tried to con victims by lying about the terms of settlements
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the New York Attorney General (NYAG) are suing RD Legal Funding, related entities, and company founder Roni Dersovitz.
The agencies claim that the companies scammed September 11 first responders—including those suffering from cancer—as well as NFL players who had experienced concussions. The suit discusses the alleged scheme to con the victims who had advances on settlement payouts by lying about the terms of the settlement. According to the CFPB, the settlement money was meant to pay for medical costs, lost income, and other crucial needs.
The CFPB and the NYAG hope to end the company's illegal practices, get relief for the victims, and put penalties into place.
"It is unconscionable that RD Legal scammed 9/11 heroes and NFL concussion victims out of millions of dollars," stated Richard Cordray, director of the CFPB. "We allege that this company and its owner lined their pockets with funds intended to cover medical care and other critical expenses for people who are sick and sidelined. Our lawsuit seeks to end this illegal scheme and get money back to those entitled to receive it."
"The alleged actions by RD Legal – scamming 9/11 heroes and former NFL players struggling with severe injuries—are simply shameful. RD Legal used deceptive tactics to charge unlawfully high interest rates for advances on settlement and compensation funds, allowing them to profit off the backs of these unsuspecting individuals," said NYAG Eric Schneiderman. "My office will do all it can to end the fraudulent practices employed by RD Legal, recoup the illegal amounts charged by this company – and make these victims whole again."
RD Legal is accused of targeting settlement fund awardees, including police, firefighters, paramedics, and other first responders to the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center. Many of the victims experience cancers and other respiratory illnesses linked to exposure to dust and debris at the site of the attack, as well as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and memory loss. The company also victimized former NFL athletes diagnosed with such neurodegenerative diseases as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's who were entitled to receive payments from a class action settlement.
The company allegedly contacted the victims after they were awarded the money but before they actually received it. It offered them a "deal" through which they would supposedly receive an upfront payment of some of the funds owed them, which they would then pay back when they got the settlement balance. The company provided confusing contracts in which they misprepresented the victims' obligation to repay the upfront payment and often collected more than twice the amount it had advanced months before.
The lawsuit claims that the victims lost millions of dollars to the scheme.
The CFPB and New York Attorney General's full complaint against RD Legal Funding can be found here.