Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Sallie Mae's Arrow Financial Gets a Wrist Slap

It's nice to have friends in high places, especially when you're a slime-ball collector who violates the law.

Good 'ol Sallie Mae bought Niles, Illinois-based Arrow Financial Services about a year ago. Arrow is one of the junk-debt Squaliforme Echeneidae. They've been under investigation over the last two years in Minnesota for little tricks like calling employers and talking to co-workers about debtors, taking more money out of checking accounts than was authorized, failing to respond to the investigators, etc.

Apparently, up there in Minnesota, Commissioner Glenn Wilson of the Commerce Department is still wondering why this type of stuff goes on. Well, a quick look at the measly fines they dish out with Wilson claiming "The violations are serious and we cannot and will not tolerate this type of activity in Minnesota," puts a little more light on why.

According to a news article, Wilson's department regulates 879 licensed collection agencies and nearly 31,000 individual collectors. But in the last 33 months, they've only taken action against 33 collection agencies and individual debt collectors - that's only about one a month.

And with those 33 actions, they've taken in about $300,000 in penalties. You do the math. Wilson's math isn't all that good - the fine for Arrow is $125,000 for 15 violations, and it's apparently a record fine.

I suppose what Wilson and the folks at Sallie Mae would love everyone to believe is that this strong (?) enforcement will somehow make the other 878 licensed agencies and 31,000 individual collectors sit up and take notice when they're harassing citizens of Minnesota.

Sure. They're all simply terrified.

For dragging a simple investigation out over two years and then letting Arrow off with a wrist slap, Wilson and his minions in Minnesota get the Sleeping-Watch-Dog award for November.

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean

Friday, November 04, 2005

Just When You Thought it was Safe

With the Dorean Group mortgage-elimination scam head honchos as dishonored guests in the hoosegow facing both state and Federal prison terms, you’d think things would kinda point people in the general direction of reality when it comes to these schemes and their promoters.

Well, if you thought that, you’d be wrong. Like a bad case of the creeping gomboo, Dorean’s scheme is creeping back into the victim luring business. It’s being re-re-re-re-tooled with the help of some of the founder’s old friends – and apparently even family.

I guess there’s just too damn much money to be made to let a scam die under the weight of the threat of going to jail for running it - no matter how many victims you create in the process.

The Dorean wannabees include good-ol’ Bill Julian (not so fresh from his losses in court), along with Bob Knupp. They apparently tied themselves in with Bob Locke, the infamous scammer behind yet another debt elimination program aimed primarily at credit card users.

This band of mental light-weights was roundly denounced by none other than Farrel “Foul Mouth” LeCompte, former high-and-mighty purveyor of his own version of legal and banking reality while defending Johnson and company on just about every forum known to man.

Of course, the incriminating material on Farrel’s ccrescam web site finally became too hot to keep up there; either that or someone finally convinced the knucklehead he was violating the court order. So while apparently trying to cooperate with the authorities he so fearlessly denigrated and dismissed as nothing to worry about in the past, he now is letting all the web site owners go-it-alone. And all that great "educational material" (read: evidence of the scam) is gone – he wishes (damn those web-caching servers!).

And what has to be a real hit in the gut for LeCompte and Santeramo is that the great one, none other than “Dr.” Fred Johnson, has apparently joined with the Julian and Knupp crowd. After all, while Kurt and Scott are just not quite able to bully and pontificate their way over the courts, why not let another gang of fools take advantage of all that legal brain power – and of course, all those new DVD’s?

Now if they were only operating ‘round here. We’re in need of some cheap labor and Bubba’s kinda tired a bein' the only one in the jail. He's sayin' there's parts of him that are starting to itch.

Friday, October 21, 2005

HSBC Following Fairbanks Footsteps

Utilizing a similar legal stand as the Curry v. Fairbanks class action case, Rebecca Turner-Freely of Philadelphia has filed a class action case against HSBC, the Squaliforme that swallowed one of the most dangerous of all Squaliformes, Household Financial.

Typical of the schemes perpetrated in predatory mortgage servicing, Turner-Freely's suit claims: “Defendant has uniformly engaged in a scheme of illegal, unfair, unlawful and deceptive business practices that violate contract and state law in the servicing of home-secured loan transactions and in the provision of certain related services.”

Sounds like HSBC hasn’t been reading the Curry v. Faribanks playbook, er, settlement.

The key difference in this case is that while the mortgages involved allow the addition of attorney’s fees for foreclosure purposes, the language of the HSBC-serviced mortgages apparently doesn’t allow for “fee shifting” of legal expenses in dealing with borrower bankruptcies – something that HSBC has routinely tried to shove down the throats of bankruptcy filers - even after their discharge.

Of course, once any predatory servicer starts saying a borrower owes more than they actually do, the spiral down toward foreclosure is predictable. HSBC even attempted to charge the plaintiff for a Sheriff’s sale that never took place, nor was it ever even advertised.

Obviously, this isn’t an isolated incident, therefore the class could be large. The firm handling the case is McCullough & Eisenberg, P.C., of Warminster, PA. Stuart Eisenberg’s phone number is 215-957-6411.

The real question is, and will always be, will a win permanently change their behavior or the behavior of other servicers?

In this court, it would. Partly 'cause they'd be behind bars long enough.

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Katz Cops a Plea Bargain - Dodges Real Punishment

Clever as ever, Howard Katz pulled a fast one by pleading "no contest" to the charges against him. Instead of going to trial and facing an almost certain guilty verdict, and instead of just pleading guilty, the maneuver will prevent the civil lawsuits against him from being able to point to a conviction as evidence of his scamming.

Not that he got off completely, but damn close to it compared to what he should have gotten which would have him in the hoosegow for most of the rest of his life.

On top of two years of not being able to practice law and six months of home confinement (boy, that's a drag), Katz is supposed to cough up about $100,000 in fines and costs plus almost $44,000 in restitution to some of his Lincoln Park victims.

Hopefully the Michigan Attorney General, Mike Cox, will do more than just put out some pretty PR piece about an investigation based on information from the Michigan court's own inquiry into Katz's practices.

But this Honorable Court questions why the firm he heads is still allowed to do business?

Special prosecutor John Gillooly originally talked tough prior to the trial, but he now says he's happy with the plea agreement. Well, he didn't have to actually go to trial so maybe that's good in his eyes. But then he tries to put lipstick on the pig: "When you and I are able to leave our residences freely and do what we want to do on weekends, Mr. Katz isn't going to be able to do that for several months."

Bailiff, break out the tissues - I can see the tears welling up from here.

Katz & Katz is nothing more than an on-going criminal enterprise with the resources to avoid having to actually pay for their crimes. And others who operate in the same deliberately abusive manner apparently have little to really fear in these cases if just one of the perpetrators pays a fine and gets a court-imposed vacation from work.

'Round here we have a slightly different view of where criminals should end up, and "no-contest" isn't one of the options.

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Crime Does Pay

A touch of historical perspective: For citizens of the territory not familiar with mortgage servicing scofflaws, one of the prominent positions on the Squaliformes Hall of Shame belongs to one Thomas Basmajian, founder/perpetrator and former head of what came to be known as the poster-child for mortgage servicing abuse, Fairbanks Capital (nka Select Portfolio Servicing which was recently acquired by CSFB).

The slap on the wrist given Fairbanks included a little zinger for Basmajian, to the tune of $400,000.00. It also barred him from working in the financial services business without the approval of the court.

Word was that the big house in swanky Park City was long gone at the time of the settlement. But before you go worrying about the poor Basmajians, consider that according to CA property records, their golf-course residence in ultra-swanky Pebble Beach was purchased just three months before the settlement was announced. And just so you'll know, even a little low-end bungalow thereabouts is over $1M.

But good old Tom apparently decided to stay in business in Salt Lake City. Word is he is involved in a business he knows a lot about – distressed residential real estate. You know, foreclosed homes. But instead of creating foreclosures, he's working the other end of the schemes and letting the other servicers generate the products, using what they learned from the settlement.

Things must be going pretty well. Foreclosure stats are up for SLC.

And just consider the $1.3M home in SLC’s also-swanky Cottonwood area he purchased late last year (Blogger's alleged image upload "service" isn't actually working as advertised, so to see dear ol' Tom's house you'll have to click on the URL below):


(Aint property records on the Internet fun?)

So while tens of thousands of just-plain folks got scammed, even lost their homes or were forced into bankruptcy, good old Tom Basmajian still seems to be doing quite well.

Yep. Just think how rough it’s been not having the private jet to get back and forth.

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean

Friday, September 16, 2005

More Experian Skullduggery

Experian's Metronet "File One Phone Search" Exposed

For $50.00 a month plus $0.35 per search, Experian customers will get unlisted and cellular numbers – and where do you suppose some of those come from?

Well, how about that toll-free number you call to “opt out” of the mailed offer deluge from the data brokers and credit card companies or to ask for your "free" credit report?

What people don’t realize is that calls to toll-free numbers (800, 866, 877) also include a data stream that includes the calling party number, even if you block your caller ID (different system). The Squaliformes are more than happy to correlate your SSAN with a phone number you call from and then sell it.

So much for paying the phone company for a supposedly “unlisted” number.

And if you think calling from your place of business or work is a good idea, think of all the Echeneidae Collectoris out there who would just love to know where you work and could care less about bending or breaking the law about contacting you there. Or at any number you just happened to use.

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean

Friday, September 09, 2005

Katz Story Continues to Unfold

Michigan Judge Sets Trial Date for Echeneidae Collectoris

As we earlier reported almost exactly one month ago, Howard Katz got caught sneaking bogus collections cases through the Michigan courts (not much new there in terms of what those kinds of lawfirms will try to get away with).

But one of the courts finally got fed up with the smell, and now Judge David Bajorek has ruled Katz is to be tried later this month on contempt charges - as in 308 counts of filing fraudulent documents and affidavits.

It's not the nature of the cases or the contempt charges - what's worrying the creditor's bar right now is the magnitude of the prospective penalties. Judge Bajorek's view is that Katz faces 30 days in jail and a $250 fine for each of the counts, mainly because he agreed with prosecutor John Gillooly that Katz did it as a "continuing practice."

That's a little more than 25 years. That might just get their attention, although the $77,000 probably won't keep any of them up at night and it's unlikely Katz (at the age of 60) will spend the rest of his life in prison.

But the case has gotten the attention of other Michigan courts who are digging into Katz's filings. And we can hope the civil suits will follow shortly and in sufficient numbers to put the Katz operation out of business permanently.

One Echeneidae Collectoris nearly down, many to go.

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean

Can we have a little fun while we’re at it?

Hear ye, hear ye! Residents, denizens and all persons of the territory and surrounding environs (and anybody who just happens to drop by):

Be it known that from this date forward, recipients of unsolicited mail purporting to offer various and sundry forms of credit, loans, insurance or other financial gobbledegook are hereby ordered to no longer simply dispose of same without opening.

Recipients are further instructed to remove the “return mail” (i.e., “business reply mail”) envelope and insert in it a blank piece of paper (appropriately folded to fit). This item is then to be deposited in the recipient’s outgoing mail receptacle or delivered to the appropriate United States Postal Service facility for return to the Squaliformes at their sole expense.

Be it so ordered.
The Clerk of This Honorable Court

[(Note from the Clerk of the Court: His honor wishes to recuse himself from this particular matter in that he does not want to take credit for the idea and thus he offers himself the defense of plausible deniability for any outcome.)]

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Another Breed of Squaliforme Surfaces - Eric McDougal

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, now comes a new breed, a mortgage lender/broker who works in collusion in advance with the Echeneidae Collectoris.

Offering kick-backs to collectors for referrals for high-interest loans, one Eric McDougal, a Sacramento-based mortgage broker, is ever the self-promoter. Finding his way on to a web site forum for collections “professionals” he touted his “services” to the crowd:

What are "anyones" feeling on referring out the debtor to a mortgage company to help pay off the debt within a 2 week period and making your EOM (end of month)?

I can help. I am a loan officer in California and have been working with collectors for the past 3 years. I can do lending in all 50 states, so there's no need to be looking for a broker in each and every state. I keep in constant contact with my clients and my collectors and will never ask to settle a referred debt.

Please contact me at xxx.xxx.xxx and I will explain more and what we can do for each other.

Eric McDougal

One of the more savvy Echeneidae mentioned there can be problems with the TILA-required 3-day rescission option - and Eric’s response?

Well, let me explain what I do in the case of the 3 day recision....... Are you ready.... this is pretty big.... I will do a check by phone, out of my own accout and then be remburised by the title company.

2. Checks will NEVER be cut directly to the debtor, I have my title company do a direct wire into your companies accout.

3. I am self employeed... If I don't close, I don't eat. I am NOT a direct lender, I am a mortgage broker. Therefore I can use many many lenders to push loans thru. From manufacter homes to Texas loans with a hundred head of cattle on 100 acres.

Now, on the question for credit scores. There is one lender that will go down to 475 fico. Unfortantly that will only come with a 65-70% LTV (loan to value). I like to stick to 500 and above in which I can get a loan secured at 80% LTV (as long as there are no mortgage lates) and with some of the lender's that I use, I can get an extra 5% exception, if needed.

ALSO, I like to put on contests within the office.. Some of the collection agencies that I have worked with will allow me to give away Mexico Trips or other kind of incentives for the collector that funds the most loans.

I agree with you, a lot of lender's CAN'T close a window, but
I like to work hand in hand with the collector to put the fear of God into the debtors and keeping in constant communications.

Give me a shot, you won't be disappointed.
What'll you bet the borrower doesn't realize they're not getting a check for the amount they were expecting until after they sign at the closing? And isn't it a great idea to be working with a mortgage broker who likes to work hand in hand to put the fear of God in you?

When dealing with someone with an apparent 5th grade education and spelling skills, one should expect to be at least disappointed. And as to another question about having the consumer's credit reports fixed:
100% of my pipeline is collection referrals.

You are correct in thinking that the "smarter" consumers are going to request that their neg. tradelines be deleted, but the honest answer is.... they don't.

These are consumers that, well, had a bad month and decided to "charge it" with hopes that money would be coming in the prior month. The only thing I've ran into with a knowledgable consumer is refinancing fees, in which I will work those out with them until we become in agreement, but, the negotiations can only last so long with the collecter calling and calling with the threat of legal actions. At that
point, the debtor just wants to get it over with.

Notice there is never any concern that the debt might be completely invalid? Doesn't matter to guys like Eric McDougal.

Again, converting unsecured debt (valid or not) into secured debt is just one of the industry’s goals and the low-lifes like Eric are out there beating the drum to collude and put people further into jeopardy while spreading the wealth with kick-backs off of what might be completely invalid debt.

And you don't suppose the lenders stepping into these scams are of the high-caliber, upstanding variety, now do you? Sure they are. And it don't rain in Indianapolis in the summertime.

What we see happening is taking a few thousand dollars of possible debt, turning it into a predatory refi loan that's secured by the victim's property, and then handing that off to one of the sub-prime servicer Squaliformes.

If you ever talk to a mortgage broker out of California by the name of Eric McDougal, hang up and don't return further calls.

McDougal better not show his sorry arse in these parts. We have places for people like him. Cold as all get-out in the winter; hotter'n hell rest of the time. I'd recommend a new line of work but most require honesty and moral turpitude.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Unchecked Power Demonstrated Once Again.

As noted here previously, “freecreditreport.com” has been a scam from the get-go, luring consumers into alleged credit scoring for free, all the while only setting people up to find out they aren’t getting what they really need unless they pay. Worse yet, even setting them up into paying for a $79.95 per year charge (in advance, of course) if they didn't realize they had to cancel the bogus "service" within 30 days.

Well leave it to the FTC to belatedly go after the schemers and finally make it look like they’re doing their best to protect the millions of victims of the credit scoring cabal.

Under the guise of things like “consumerinfo.com” and its subsidiaries Qspace and Ispace, none other than data broker Experian had found yet another way to fleece consumers.

But once again, the toothless FTC is getting zip compared to the damage done and business goes on as usual.

And like most FTC announcements, this one plays to the supposed diligence of the FTC:

"Consumers paid the price for ordering free credit reports from freecreditreport.com," said Lydia Parnes, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. "It's unfair and deceptive to promise consumers something for free and then trick them into paying for products they didn't want in the first place."

So why the paltry $950K fine? And why did it take more than three years to bring the practice to a halt?

Well, you can only chalk another one up to the unmitigated power Experian has in the halls of Washington.

On this side of the Pecos, letting the perps get away with it this long and with a meaningless fine would get Ms. Parnes fired and then some.

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean.

Monday, August 08, 2005

One to Keep an Eye On up in Michigan

The Katz & Katz "law firm" scam in Michigan has caught the eye of at least one other judge who apparently doesn’t like the status quo.

Turns out Katz and Katz got caught pulling one of the typical bogus-notification schemes against alleged debtors, then walking away with uncontested judgments when the defendant didn’t show up to a hearing they didn’t even know was taking place. Howard Katz is facing 300+ criminal contempt charges for getting caught filing bogus documents in the 25th District court (in nearby Lincoln Park).

To his credit, Judge Stephen Cooper (46th District over in Southfield) has now turned to the Michigan District Judges Association and pointed out that things weren’t fair for average people. (DUH!) Like anyone who's observed these schemes in action, he’s seen things like multiple suits against the same party for the same alleged debt or the typical trick of going after people who have no connection to the debt. And he apparently has “serious concerns…about the validity” of some of the filings the scammers try to pass through the system - and there are about 500 per month in Southfield alone. Cooper's clerk refused to accept 75 cases and tossed them back into Katz's lap when the scammer said he wouldn't try to justify the inexplicable fees and charges he had piled on, so there's going to be more court action on that front.

The good news is Cooper's apparently not the only one who thinks the stench is getting too strong. If he gets enough support from his fellow jurists and can get the State Supreme Court to make some changes, some of the more blatant collection scams might be harder to pull off - at least in Michigan.

The bad news is the Echeneidae Collectoris will eventually try to find other ways around any new rules that are implemented unless the fines and penalties actually put a few of them out of business and some law licenses get pulled.

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean

Monday, August 01, 2005

Well, the Washington Post gets at least part of it right!


The Court hereby notes that Warren Dedrick, head of Marlin Integrated Capital gets the “Squaliforme PR Bozo of the Month Award" for July, with this inanity as quoted by the above-linked article’s author, Caroline E. Mayer:

"In every sector, there are bad apples, but 95 percent of all debt buyers are good, nice business people. I believe hardly any debt buyers break the law, but on the other hand, if you're talking to a consumer once a week for six weeks, it's going to do nothing but alienate the consumer base."

Interesting way the industry is trying so hard to change its image by renaming themselves as "debt buyers" instead of what they really are.

95 percent are “good, nice business people?” "...hardly any debt buyers break the law?" Warren, doesn't that really mean you're trying to cover up the fact that debt buyers are still the same old debt collectors who ROUTINELY BREAK THE LAW?

Coming from the species who lie, cheat, steal and intimidate people, this Court sentences Dedrick to three nights in one of our already occupied cells for making a knowingly false public utterance.

[(Note from the Clerk of the Court: Mr. Dedrick, don’t mind Bubba. He’s a bit weird and testy as all get-out from time to time. You’ll be better off not waking him.)]

Friday, July 22, 2005

Bidding for the Movie Rights?

The long, sad saga of the Dorean Group is entering a new chapter, with the two principal perpetrators now in custody and hundreds of panicked "client" victims left to wonder what will happen to them.

Maybe a movie? How about "The Three Stooges Go to Jail?"

In addition to the three key players (more on #3 in a moment), they'll need lots of co-stars and a huge number of walk-on actors to represent the victims. There are still a number of accomplices out there who lured people into the scheme (most of the URL's tie back to the ccresource site and some cannot be identified with specific individuals):

1kperday.net, 86yourmortgage.com, abao.us, advancedvalues.com, allamericansolutions.com, allisbright.net, amgdebtfree.com, b-homefree.com, barneshelp4u.com, befreedebtfree.com, byebyemortgage.net, cashandhome.com, ccresource.com (Farrel LeCompte, TX), ccrsteamboat.com, chrysalisinvestmentgroup.com, cleardeed.net, coachsvision.com, countriesforsale.com, crownmortgagefree.com, debtcrusher.net, debtfreecolorado.com, debtfreehome.com, debtfreepeople.com, debtfreepromisedland.com, debtfree2morrow.com, deletemortgages.com (Eduardo Bicierro, WA), didyoueverthink.com, domortgagesright.com, doubleyourwealth.com, dueprocess.org, easymortgagefree.com, erasemymortgage.com, ezmortgagefree.com, fazon.us, fiatcapitalresources.com, financialfreedlom123.net, freeandclear123.com, freedom101online.com, freedomfinancialconsultants.com (Byron Gashler, IA), freedomforyou.net, freehometrust.com, freehousenow.com, freethefarm.com, futurefreedomnow.com, gomortgagefree.com, goodby-mortgage.com (Art Schaefer, CA), goodtradewinds.com, helpeliminate.com, homedebtfree.net, homefree123.net, homefreewithme.com, homewardboundgroup.info (Bill Julian, Rodney Austin), honestbanks.com, honsestmortgage.org, ifyoucould.net, jamesdevine.net (James Devine), jblessing.com, jfreedom.com, joedebt.net, johncanhelp.org (Alan Johnson), karenkunz.com (Karen Kunz), knhservices.com, loanfreehomes.net, loanviolations.com, mortgageelimination.org (Todd Clark, GA), mortgagefreedom.biz, mortgage-free-us.com, mortgagefreeandclear.net, mortgagefreeatlast.com, mortgagefreeforever.com, mortgagefreeforme.com (Israel Perl, NY), mortgagefreegroup.com, mortgagefreein60days.com, mortgagefreelifestyle.com, mortgagefreetoday.com, mortgagefreetruth.com, mortgagefreetitle.com, mortgagefreeus.com, mortgagegone4ever.com, mortgageisgone.com, mortgageremoval.com (David L. Cossak), mortgageremover.com, mortgages-elimination.com, mortgageterminated.com, mortgagevictory.com, mst101.com, myhomepaid4.com, nfins.com, nodebtatall,com, nohomeloan.com, nohousepayment.net, nomorenote.com, nomomortgage.com, nomortgageforme.com, nomortgageloan.com, patjohn.com, pcmsolutions.org, postmortgage.com, ptdebtfree.com (“Crown Financial Group”), puredebt.com, rcalibertymortgage.com, releasemyfortgage.com, removeyourmortgage.com, rjtdebtfree.com, seemedebtfree.com, speedymortgageretirement.com, stophomeloan.com, stophousepayments.com (Darlene Sundstrom, CO), stopmortgagedebt.com, stopyourmortgage.com, terminate123.com (Tamazi Gogadze, CA), themortgagetriangle.com, theobsidianconnective.com, thesamuelsgroup.com, thom15.com, todaysolution.com, treasureinheaven.net, truthinlending.us, underyourroof.com, voidmortgages.com, wealthadvancement.org, whatifitstrue.com, wipeoutyourmortgage.com, wisdom2elminination.com, wmag.us (Wealth Management Advisory Group - Mark C. Roy), yourhomefreeandclear.net, yourlastpayment.com, zapmortgages.net, zeromortgage123.com.

As the disaster caseload picks up around the country, there is a third someone who is showing up as a common-denominator behind or at least along-side the two key perpetrators in the legal filings they attempt to foist on the courts. And this isn't all that new.

In Citibank (South Dakota), N.A. v. Argiro, Rockingham, New Hampshire, Superior Court - Docket # 03-C595. the court ruled:

The defendant filed an affidavit from someone named Todd-Ellis; Swanson (sic) who is alleged to be a certified public accountant residing in Greenville, South Carolina. A review of this multi-paged document suggests that the affiant espouses ‘voodoo economics.’ If the subject matter were not so serious, the affidavit would have to be considered laughable. Its reasoning is akin to a current astronomer offering evidence to prove that the world is flat. The Court rejects the affidavit out-of-hand.

Even a couple of years later, attorney's can get caught up with these theories. Bill Julian's case (note the name of one of the above listed Dorean Group web site promoters) was similarly derailed with an attempt to use a Swanson affidavit, as was JED Lambeth's. The attorney in both of those more recent cases was allegedly taken in by the scam and is now seeking to withdraw from further procedings in the Julian case as well as avoid sanctions the court is considering bringing against him for the debacle. He apparently thought there was going to be a major opportunity in representing cases backed up by the Swanson theories.

So if the victims are counting on the brain-trust of Swanson/Heinemann/Johnson to save their homes in the coming weeks and months, they're in for another nasty surprise.

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean

Friday, July 15, 2005

Honor Among Theives?

Ya gotta love scam artists, in a way. All of us at one time or another have cheered on the likes of the characters in “The Sting,” or perhaps more recently, “Ocean’s Eleven” (and Twelve). Something about scamming the rich, the powerful or especially the greedy seems downright appropriate.

So when we see scams pulled by the little guy against a bigger guy, we may even have some sympathy for the scammer. Call it the "Robin Hood" syndrome.

But what if the little guy is only appearing to be scamming the big guy? What if the supposed little guy is actually scamming a bunch of his supposed-fellow little guys? And what if those little guys are actually victims of the kind of financial schemes this Court so adamantly opposes and routinely chastises herein? Victims desperately looking for help.

Scamming those who have been taken advantage of is lower than low. The perpetrators of these things can get in any room they want without even opening the door.

Comes now before this Court the principals and purveyors of various debt-elimination schemes, specifically persons associated with The Dorean Group and related entities. The Court recognizes half of the brain-trust behind this thing is now incarcerated in California; the other half (a former convicted felon) is hiding from an arrest warrant and supposedly blogging away to fan the fires of what has now seemingly mutated into quasi-religious fervor among some of the faithful.

The main player's circumstances don’t stop their minions from defending them and still promoting the illegal program, although one would think it would be pretty hard to sell it to anyone who has Internet access and a search engine.

From all appearances, it now appears they are positioning themselves for martyrdom, if not outright sainthood among the deluded crowd.

It is interesting to see how these folks are connected and networked together; they share a common conspiratorial theme (which are various versions of a long-held mythology so the Court won’t dwell on it) but they also have another commonality – they position themselves as having extremely valuable, secret knowledge a consumer/borrower can buy and use to save themselves thousands, even tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.

What a wonderful concept! And the only loser in the program is the Squaliforme?

Were it only true. The losers are those who paid money for the programs. Two time losers are the ones who actually tried to use them. Soon to be three time losers are the victims when the legal system puts them through the meat grinder and takes their property. And surprise, surprise, there’s nobody from the scammers ‘round to help out.

And when looking at those participating, it is illustrative to look at the case of one “Jed” (Joyce Earl Delancy) Lambeth.

Mr. Lambeth is by all accounts a man of many interests, including being interested in various debt-elimination schemes, one of them being the Dorean Group, with which he was named in an action taken by the North Carolina Attorney General which resulted in a court order barring them from doing what they were doing to anyone else, let alone promoting it in NC.

Now, if that one won’t work, perhaps being a partner in something called “The Liberty Group,” will keep Lambeth’s attention, seeings how they have their own mortgage elimination scheme as well as links to at least three other scams and one MLM scheme:

  • A “loss-mitigation” foreclosure-rescue scheme that preys on mortgage victims about to lose their homes – which you can also become an agent for to make money while doing it);
  • One (of two) car-loan elimination scams “Jed” promotes (more on the other one in a moment);
  • A link to the New Leaf Associates debt-elimination scheme for which Jed is an agent;
  • And last but not least, his partner's health and wellness MLM business

Jed also promotes the Echard & Burnham Global Freedom Solutions tax dodge program, where you can learn more of those little-known secrets of why you don’t have to pay income taxes – oh and you can buy a website to make money misleading people too.

If those and the Dorean thing aren’t enough, Jed is also an agent for another car-loan debt elimination scam set up by one David Echard [( does that name "Echard" ring any bells? )] dba “D&H Associates.” There are currently ten or so other “agents” who paid for the privilege of having a web site to lure people into a run-of-the-mill DE scam. Lord only knows how many got recruited, then paid then found out they were duped.

D&H Associates was none other than one David Echard (and a woman who will go back to being anonymous for the time being), who were themselves at one time, down-line agents for an MLM scam that had it’s home in Canada: United Financial Consumers. Back in 2003, these folks started marketing an “equity recovery” scheme that the RCMP stepped in, er, onto:

“We have just been informed by the Winnipeg Commercial Crime Division of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), of a clever scam being perpetrated by several people across Canada against life and health insurers, mutual fund companies, banks and possibly other types of
financial institutions. In this case, the company receives a well crafted 19-page contract entitled an "Agreement for the restoration of the equities including Promissory Note and Security Agreement" together with a $10 Postal Money Order representing the contract's monetary consideration. The action of any employee or agent of the company on the money order would become forensic evidence of the acceptance of the agreement which amounts to accepting liability for a debt of $2,604,810 plus all sorts of costs, including legal costs.”

Clever, eh? Well, it was for a time.

Maybe the highly-publicized demise of the Dorean Group will help dissuade victims from grasping for the lead-lined life-preservers these scammers are selling.

If only we could round them all up...I could have this one over in about an hour. Not enough cells to go 'round; they'll have to double bunk some. Then again, we could use some hard labor help 'round here.

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean

Monday, July 11, 2005

Here We Go Again; FTC Lets Another Scammer Deny Wrongdoing

This latest case is a perfect example of why the species continues to proliferate.

Some people may have already heard about the Alyon scam, but for those unfamiliar with it, one very clever Stephane Touboul set up a web site back in 2003 that when a consumer clicked on a button, a download ensued which the consumer supposedly had agreed to.

So far, so good, right? People download stuff all the time.

But Alyon’s program was also a Trojan horse; it disconnected the user’s normal Internet connection then unknowingly reconnected them on a $4.99 per minute dial-up network link to the service they had signed up with. Clever these ‘net schemers are, eh?

Needless to say, a lot of the consumers found the ridiculous scam charges on their phone bills and challenged them. Some rightfully refused to pay.

Enter Echeneidae Collectoris – TelCollect, Inc., who took over the collections of the illegally-charged accounts as if they were legitimately past due, sending out thousands of letters and going after people who were victims of a scam.

Over a year later, in December 2004, the FTC finally got them to drop $17M in bogus charges.

Gosh – what a deal. Now Alyon is barred from billing a consumer unless it has “verification that the consumer is an adult who has expressly agreed to purchase the services…” as well as being barred from “planting software on consumers’ computers without their consent.”

As for the Echeneidae Collectoris? The stipulated order is similar: TelCollect is “…permanently barred from billing a consumer for any videotext services unless it has verification that the consumer is an adult who has expressly agreed to purchase the services…” Oh, and the real supposed “teeth” of this order: “The defendant is also required to obtain written agreement from each vendor it works with that the vendor will comply with the terms…” And they’re supposed to "investigate consumer complaints and take appropriate action." Right.

Once again, the FTC let’s them both off the hook: “Note: This stipulated final order is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission by the defendant of a law violation.”

Y'all in Washington know how many minutes it takes to get a few million scammed bucks stashed away into a Caribbean bank? Trust me, it aint a year. And letting them off without them having to admit they broke the law only makes it easier for the next one.

Had they pulled this ILLEGAL crap on this side of the Pecos, neither company would have survived 2003, let alone still be operating in 2005. Oh, and while we were at it, we’d a found the money. The Court could use a little beach time.

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Time is Short; The Squaliformes are Hungry

As predicted here back in November of 2004, the Squaliformes have been drooling and are about to get what they’ve long coveted:

What most people don't realize, but more will as we age and come into contact with the healthcare delivery system in this country, medical records are an almost un-tapped ocean of personal information from which the squaliformes can make judgments about you.

Demographic profiling of medical records will allow them to analyze new risk factors and develop scores based on things like lifestyle choices, illnesses, even dietary patterns. And the data is already being collected and analyzed for the life and medical insurance Squaliformes by MIB (formerly known as the Medical Information Bureau).

So if you go to your doctor and get treated for say, alcoholism, don't you think your auto insurer would be interested in that? You bet your a** they are. And with health insurance reform coming down the pike in Washington this next session, don't be surprised if you wake up one morning and find out they've already started sharing MIB reporting data on you for things other than medical insurance claims fraud detection.

The Squaliformes are ready to trade almost anything to get around the limits on actually using the information they already have and continue to collect. It's too late to stop the collection (your medical records are routinely sent to MIB), so now it all comes down to trying to keep them from using it for something other than the purposes they say they use it for.

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean

The FACT Act turned the sensitive issue of what to do about formerly private medical information over to the agencies responsible for making the rules. But of course, the Squaliformes have been holding the hands of the sleeping watchdogs in Washington for decades, and they're essentially writing those rules for the obtaining, sharing and use of medical information in credit eligibility decisions and more.

The “interim final rules” from the OCC, FRB, FDIC, OTS and the NCUA have been published and the public (read: future victims) have until only until July 11th of this month to comment.

The sleeping watchdogs’ view of the “Let the Squaliformes Hunt as They See Fit” rules and how to comment about them are here:


It’s big – 110 pages, but it doesn't take a lot of time to download. (Nothing like making the victims work under a deadline to try to save themselves.)

A quick summary (quoting now):

“The interim final rules create exceptions to the statute's general prohibition on creditors obtaining or using medical information pertaining to a consumer in connection with any determination of the consumer's eligibility, or continued eligibility, for credit for all creditors. The exceptions permit creditors to obtain or use medical information in connection with credit eligibility determinations where necessary and appropriate for legitimate purposes, consistent with the Congressional intent to restrict the use of medical information for inappropriate purposes. The interim final rules also create limited exceptions to permit affiliates to share medical information with each other without becoming consumer reporting agencies.”
Legitimate? Necessary? Appropriate? They're making their own definitions.

The pages and the industry’s guidance in the design of the rules are the road map to the final destination: The destruction of the last vestiges of personal privacy.

Unfortunately, we’ve sat back and let them compile everything they ever wanted and are suddenly waking up to the fact that it is now probably too late to stop them. Not only is our personal financial information now bantered about without any real penalty to the perpetrators, that information blended with our medical history will be so valuable that no amount of supposed protection is going to keep it out of determined hands.

This onerous step is being taken to simply gut the FACT Act and establish a profiling system that has already been modeled for demonstration purposes.

Within that ponderous 110 pages are the legal definitions of what the Squaliformes want to be authorized to do; but we know from experience they will step far beyond the rules when it suits their purposes - especially when they get to define the purposes.

And we know any penalties for misuse (covert or otherwise) will be so infinitesimal as to not make them worry about it.

And if you think fixing a Squaliforme-enabler data broker’s contaminated credit database is unnerving and costly, wait until you find out you didn’t get a job because of the prescriptions you were supposedly issued.

If you don’t think it’s worth your time to respond, This Court hopes you are one of the very blessed few who never have a health problem.

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean

Thursday, June 30, 2005

When His Honor Stops Laughing...

[(Note from the Clerk of the Court: His Honor, after much struggle to regain his normal dignity and serious comportment, has authorized me to notify all within the environs of his jurisdiction that the court will be closed until July 5th. Hopefully, by that date, he will have ceased to find the news item below as amusing as he did this morning. We have coffee stains all over the place and one of the horses is easily spooked by hysterical laughing fits. She is still off her feed this afternoon.)]

The head of the sleeping-watchdog FTC, Deborah Platt Majoras got one of those letters from DSW. Her credit card information has been stolen.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Double Whammy - Our Tax Dollars at Waste

Talk about dumber than a box of rocks!

The IRS has decided to award notoriously leaky Squaliforme data broker ChoicePoint a contract as it's public record provider.

The firm that has routinely demonstrated its gluttony for snooping-and-selling also announced it wasn't going to be making as much money from selling private information about everyone to some of its previous client base. About $20M less.

Instead, and almost simultaneously, the announcement of the IRS contract comes out. And guess how much that contract is worth? $20M.

Nice for ChoicePoint to have friends in high places in Washington. Friends with almost unlimited power and of course, lots and lots of OUR money to play with so they can have instant access to dig around into our formerly private lives.

Even if they are dumber than a box of rocks, they sure knew when to come to the rescue of a wounded Squaliforme.

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean

Monday, June 20, 2005

More Squaliforme Collections Lawyer Buffoonery

Well, despite the FACT Act "safeguards" the geniuses in Washington said were going to help protect personal information, yet another example of just how careless all the Squaliforme relatives are has cropped up in Columbia, Missouri.

The "law firm" of Farber and Brand has been caught bungling the disposal of sensitive personal information - information they probably shouldn't have had in the first place ended up being found by a citizen at a recycling center.

The latest version of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act can be a problem for firms who don't destroy documents and computer files. There can be fines of $2,500 for each violation.

According to the newspaper account, partner Bart Brand said disposing of sensitive documents in a public recycling bin was against company policy. He said the firm takes all the necessary precautions to protect debtors’ personal information. However, he declined to say how the company disposes of sensitive data.

“We make every effort to comply with obligations, and we will continue to look into matter,” Brand said.

“I don’t know whether somebody that worked here made a mistake or somebody got into our office,” he said. “I don’t know what happened.”

Well, Bart, let's just hope there weren't a thousand people's information dumped into that recycling bin. At $2.5K per violation that might be real money for even a collections Squaliforme.

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean

Monday, June 13, 2005

Slow [In]Justice for Squaliforme Victims

Gotta hand it to the lawyers and PR folk for the mortgage servicing Squaliformes Fairbanks Capital (kka SPS - Select Portfolio Servicing) and Homecomings (the GMAC/RFC sub-prime servicer).

After scamming hundreds of people in West Virginia out of their homes, the two Squaliformes have forgiven some $11M in debt and handed out about $750K in what West Viginia AG Darrell McGraw, Jr. says is "restitution."

And yet again, these two get away without having to admit they did anything wrong!

Homecomings' Stephen Dupont had the unmitigated gall to say the company "...did not initiate wrongful foreclosures nor did it engage in mortgage servicing abuses."

Speaking out of both sides of your mouth is an art form among these companies. Scam, get caught, fight against any meaningful punishment in the settlement, pay back a tiny fraction of the damage done to people, lie about the scam and keep on going!

Where's my cattle prod? And somebody get a rope. Make that several ropes. We'll do this all at once.

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Squaliformes Fighting Among Themselves

What goes around eventually comes around - sort of.

Squaliforme mortgage lender Loan Giant (World Wide Financial Services) has fallen on hard times and is being threatened with foreclosure and eviction by GE Commercial Finance.

Of course, being of the same general species, there are certain "professional courtesies" being observed, including discussions, despite the problem having been going on for years.

Loan Giant even managed to piss off a real giant - GMAC RFC in some dealings in Minnesota last year that resulted in a lawsuit because of some falsified loan application documents.

Even the FHA finally had to drop them from the approval list in 2004.

On top of that, since last year the State of Michigan has been doing some much-needed Squaliforme-hunting in an effort to revoke their license for the kinds of schemes that usually end up leaving the home-buyer/borrower hung out to dry.

But, of course the mortgage industry will point to these incidents as anomalies and keep their dancing-bear show going in Washington to try and block any further intrusions into their ability to take advantage of consumers.

I hereby offer the services of this Honorable Court to conduct the bankruptcy proceedings. (FYI, 'round here we have less "professional courtesy" available for Squaliformes.)

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean.

Friday, June 03, 2005

A Squaliforme by any other name

One of the tricks of the trade used in collections is to scare ordinary folks into thinking there are dire legal consequences facing them when some third-party Squaliforme collector's lawyer starts harassing them over a debt they may not even owe.

The implication these low-lifes present is that because a letter or a phone call comes from an attorney's office, the victim should be afraid of being sued, or worse yet in some of the more ruthless cases, even arrested.

They also prey on the fact that most people don't realize that some of the Squaliformes will buy and then try to collect on debts that have gone far past the statute of limitations. The stupid part of this is, they can legally TRY to do that - as long as they don't threaten legal action.

Using this trickery, Squaliforme law firm Riddle and Associates, on behalf of CAMCO (Capital Acquisitions and Management Company), kept threatening legal action against someone for an MBNA debt that was over ten years old. The victim, Gilbert Gervais, sued - and won in U.S. District Court in Connecticut.

The real message here is that if these bottom-feeder lawyers even imply they are going to take you to court to collect something you legally don't owe any more, they are making a "false, deceptive or misleading representation," in their effort to collect, and having multiple phone calls and letters from the law firm regarding a "legal matter" is enough to imply they were going to sue.

Finally, a small victory for consumers!

Course, 'round here, we'd a had a quick trial and introduced these Squaliformes to the inside of one of our cells for a few weeks for pulling the stunt. Up there, they just spent a fortune on lawyerin' to try and keep their sorry asses from havin' to follow the law.

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Credit Data Squaliforme Experian Objects!

Whaaaaaaaaaa. Whaaaaaaa. Whaaaaaaa.

Can you hear the whining? All the way from Vermont!

Squaliforme data broker Experian is all broken up about an Attorney General using the all-too-kindly label of "data broker" in describing them.

Julie Brill, assistant AG up there in Vermont said in testimony that "data brokers" needed more regulation (which we heartily endorse). But Squaliforme cheerleader Tony Hadley (VP of propaganda, er, "Government Affairs," for one of the biggest Squaliforme data manglers) objected.

Order! Order! Pardon this Court while the laughter dies down.

She was much too kind, Tony.

Here 'bouts we call 'em as we see 'em, and you can put lipstick on that pig all you want, but folks aren't convinced.

Your company is profiteering at the expense of consumers, Tony. Be glad someone at the AG level isn't telling it like it really is.

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

More fun and games with Seisint & the Federal Snoops

Want a quick, low cost credit and background records check on someone? Apparently somebody does - or at least they're being told they do.

Want to see how Kurt Sanford (LexisNexis CEO) lies about what information Seisant has, sells and in particular, shares about people? You know, the part about the security breach where he claims credit information wasn't accessed in the now-infamous leak that was supposedly just a little one, then the truth came out. (See the March archives.)

Well, sure enough, there's a trade organization for just about every business in this great country. And what do you know, there's even an association of "self-storage" rental places, known as the "Self Storage Association." They've been around a long time; 30 years, according to their web site, and they represent some 2,750 companies with nearly 47,000 properties.

And wouldn't you know it, Seisint (the home to the MATRIX scheme) has set up a really slick, low-cost credit and background check service for these folks. It's one of those "member benefits" that they call an "id verification program" on their web site. No mention of the credit score part. No mention of the bankruptcy check they can run on existing tenants or the notification they can get if you move or file for bankruptcy. No mention of the criminal background check, either.

Now this Court understands why a storage landlord needs this information. After all, you don't want to have some low-life stashing stuff in your property, right? So your going to take the word of a computer system in Florida that is broadly contaminated with bogus information from undefined sources and mixed in with an equally-faulty credit score.

With a clever marketing scheme and a catchy name that bespeaks the protection of the country in this time of terrorist threats (ssacountermeasures), Seisint tugs at the hearts (and a little at the wallets) of storage rental landlords by asking them what it's worth, "Knowing you're doing everything in your power to help fight international terrorism right here at home." Wow, don't we all feel better.

But what no one seems to realize is that Seisint is offering this service on their custom-made and supported (just for SSA) web site at BELOW COST. $7.95 per hit for the credit-included snooping and $4.95 if no credit information is wanted. (But golly, Kurt, you said there weren't credit records available?!?)

But a better question, Kurt - why so cheap? Simple - because Seisint allows law enforcement and skip-tracing and collections companies to snoop around in people's personal business (and with this new offering, where they keep things) for, of course, a profit.

It's not what you might have in the storage space - although one has to wonder how long before that "feature" is added; if you are a tenant (or even apply to be one), you're now on Seisint's national list of suspects (or should we say "persons of interest?") because you have a storage rental unit if the landlord SSA member signs up for the service and checks on you.

And - you may not even know they checked you out. They can do it right at the desk before hand, or they can check you out later.

Not 'round here. On this side of the Pecos, citizens are hereby advised to find another place to stash their junk if the landlord starts acting inquisitive. Better yet, if you see the SSA logo on the door, ask if they use the privacy invasion system BEFORE you give them your name.

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean.

Monday, May 23, 2005

The Smell of the Lembo case is starting to spread.

Much as this Court predicted on the 15th of this month, the banks involved in the Orazio Lembo scheme are being forced to admit the disaster is far bigger than they wanted everyone to think.

Now word has leaked that there are at least forty law firms and collection Squaliformes on the list of willing participants that have been found thus far.

Stand by for them to play deaf, dumb and blind while they try to pin the whole thing on Lembo.

And don't count on the news media to go after and expose the lawyers who are actually behind the scheme (and have been for years). No telling how much credit/financial damage could be done to a reporter (or blogger) who outs these Squaliformes.

One other prediction: The industry lap-dogs at the FTC will tsk-tsk and make a lot of noise but won't put a single one of the firms out of business.

If they appear in this court, they'd be strung up after their assets had been liquidated and the proceeds distributed to the victims.

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Clever These Squaliformes Become They Do!

[Nods to Yoda - The movie was great!]

You folks in Irvine California ought to keep an eye out for one Mr. Darren Charest, president of US Tracers.

This low-life offers his fellow Squaliformes (the Collectoris variety in particular) all kinds of handy information – including a database of unlisted phone numbers.

WARNING: If you get a “free,” unsolicited calling card, or anyone you know gets one, DON’T USE IT!

From their web site:

"The key to the Calling Cards are their ability to locate skips or develop leads by:

- Tracing the "From Numbers" (Incoming Calls) where the cards are used
- Determine called "To Numbers" (Outgoing Numbers) that calls are placed to

Our Calling Cards were developed to pin down mobile skips that utilize various techniques to avoid being located. Calling Cards are in use to overcome the following common skip techniques (by no means complete):

- using mail drops and/or General Delivery addresses
- cohabitating with 3rd parties (girlfriends/boyfriends, spouses, relatives, friends, etc.).
- communicating using only cellular phones, payphones, or pagers
- communicating only through 3rd parties who are uncooperative
- falsifying social security numbers to avoid detection
- moving repeatedly
- living overseas

Cards are delivered in attractive packaging encouraging skips and/or their associates to use them. As the cards are used, critical location information is reported to the customer on a regular basis. Many unsolved cases can be brought to a close with minimal effort and expense."

REPEAT WARNING: If you get a “free,” unsolicited calling card, or anyone you know gets one, DON’T USE IT!

Have a little fun at their expense; leave the card at a payphone at an airport.

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean.

Minnesota Bench Blunder

Lordy it must be the long winters up there.

In Minnesota at least, the auto dealerships can mark-up the interest rates on loans and don't have to tell the customer when they do it.

So "Truth In Lending" doesn't have to be the truth and jacking up interest rates on car loans without telling people is OK in Minnesota.

According to Judge Randolph Peterson of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, the 4.75% markup Walser Automotive Group tacked on to a 15% Ford Motor Credit loan was not material to the loan.


Y'all up there know you elect these bufoons, right?

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Dumbest Squaliforme of the Month Award

This Court has come across what has to be the dumbest Squaliforme legal case in history.

A Bear Stearns subsidiary, EMC Mortgage, of Irving, Texas (on the other side of the Pecos, thank you), has been dragging one Robert John Wright through various courts up yonder in Dallas for EIGHT YEARS. The source posting on a web site for Elliot Spitzer (don’t ask why – it’s politics) says 3,000 days. A quick look around elsewhere tells me at least part of this case went all the way up to the US Supreme Court (and they weren’t interested) but that was with Bank of America a few years back. Even a quick read and I'm pretty damn sure they're connected.

Now, I’m not sure about what the average property up there is worth, but let’s say Mr. Wright’s house is above the national average and is worth a quarter-million.

EIGHT YEARS of litigation and they still haven’t won? To go after a property for EIGHT YEARS that MIGHT get them a house worth a quarter-million if they do win?

According to the post, Wright’s apparently penniless now so they’re not going to get their attorney fees or costs even if they win. (I’ll bet a good bottle of whiskey and a box of 12Ga. Shells they’re not accepting his payments even if he could make them.)

Now, I know up there they pay barristers pretty damn well (it’s always big $ in Big D), so simple math says EIGHT YEARS of litigation they’re into it well over a half-million just in lawyers and they’re not taking in anything from him. If Wright’s still actually in the house this story could be scripted as “The Three Stooges Play Lawyer.”

Sure ‘nuff, this EMC Squaliforme is the same outfit that’ll be paying $6 MILLION+interest to a Missouri couple (the now-infamous Starks case) and then they got their hands slapped with a $10K censure from a bankruptcy Judge just a few months ago.

Given their parent company’s historically dismal ethical performance and massive financial penalties, this Court can only assume they sent the guys responsible that weren’t already jailed for their previous dimwitted scams down to do pennance in the wastelands of Irving.

Either they haven’t got a case against him and just don’t want to admit it, or they’ve got something to hide, or they’re still dumber than a box of rocks. Probably all three.

If Wright can get his case moved to this side of the Pecos, we’ll have this thing wrapped up in under an hour. Save everybody a lot of time and money. Knowing who they are and what they do, EMC best bring cash, and lots of it. We don't accept checks from Squaliformes.

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean.

[(Note from the clerk of the Court: His Honor didn’t mention it but he doesn’t hang people for stupidity very often. Attempts to correct the condition are made utilizing the cattle prod.)]

Monday, May 16, 2005

It's not just the big three you need to know about

As this court has pointed out more than a few times, while Creditoris Squaliformes and the sleeping-watch-dog regulators routinely blab on and on about how YOU are responsible for knowing what's in YOUR credit report and getting it fixed, they know full well other information about you is being gathered and is floating around out there. And they also don't like to admit you aren't made aware it's being collected and sold, nor do you know if and when it's used or even how to correct it when the errors and even concocted misinformation about you is collected. It's a bit too simple - if they don't have to admit they have it, they don't have to admit they use it.

In fact, in today's climate of deliberately induced fear about terrorists, the regulators and businesses who want to do so-called "background checks," would rather not have anyone know these companies are playing fast-and-loose with information about you. Government and the Squaliformes are thrilled to be able to scratch each other's backs, er, make that dorsal fins, while individual privacy is invaded willy-nilly.

Another Squaliforme has been uncovered and joins the Hall of Shame this week:

Operating under the guise of "Merlin Information Systems," Mike and Jordonna Dores have been playing private detective and gathering and selling information about people from their offices in tiny Kalispell, Montana for over 10 years now.

Recently, US Postal Service inspectors made them aware that a customer of their's wasn't exactly on the up and up. Just as with the ChoicePoint snafu, the person who wanted the information and was willing to pay for it set up what appeared to be a legitimate account. He then obtained the information on nearly 9,000 unaware victims of this decade-long covert and blatant privacy abuse.

Gosh, and aw shucks, Mike. Like it hasn't happened before or won't happen again? Up that close to the Canadian border you figure you've been eyeball to eyeball with all your "customers?" Not likely.

According to a small article in the Missoula, Montana paper:

"We, of course, immediately apologized," [Jordonna] Dores said, and the company fired off a letter this week to those whose personal records were shared. The company also offered those affected a year's worth of credit monitoring at no cost, and bought a $50,000 identity theft insurance policy for each of the 8,998 people."

Wow, so those you think had their records shared get a year's worth of credit monitoring and some insurance coverage for identity theft purposes.

Gosh, and aw shucks, Jordonna. That might be useful if the crook was using the information for that purpose. Highly unlikely, and the story isn't over yet because the crook hasn't been apprehended so we have no idea what he was doing with it or who he passed it on to.

More likely, the crook is yet another information reseller wannabe who can make money by collecting and selling supposedly private information to companies wanting to have plausible-deniability in obtaining and using such crap in "not hiring" decisions, or Squaliformes and attorneys who don't want to have to live with even the miniscule protections we're supposed to have.

And how many more "Merlin Information Systems" snoops are out there? We'll never know. Anyone with (or even without) a detective's license who can hire some techies and buy information for resale can do this and you'll never know.

So, for those folks on that side of the Pecos, the next time you apply for a job or insurance coverage, you might want to reconsider signing that waiver clause that says they can obtain information about you from anybody they want.

And on this side, any company that uses these Squaliforme enablers better not show up in this Court.

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

They're working hard to keep this one quiet

Creditoris Squaliformes Majoris Bank of America and Wachovia are doing their best to keep this one out from under the major news media radar, but as of last week, a few news outlets decided to live with the possibility of reduced advertising revenue and ran with the story. Along with some smaller institutions PMC Financial Services and Commerce Bank) they are worried this one might expose the shady relationships that leak confidential information about people if the right palms are crossed.

Turns out, for the last several years, a skip-tracer/detective in New Jersey has been using his contacts at the above-mentioned Squaliformes banks to get information for his collection-company and law firm clients. Well, to use modern reactionary slang, DUH!?!?

One banking-publication columnist expressed shock and dismay. Puhleeeze. Spare me the surprise act.

The perpetrator, who lives in Hackensack, New Jersey, is one Orazio Lembo Jr., a thirty-five year old scammer who made millions from his clients and paid about $10 for each of the bank records he got from less than ten employees at the banks - and we're not talking low-level tellers; the perps are management employees. Obviously, for him to make that much money, the law firms and collections companies paid Lembo a lot more than that to get information they knew they couldn't acquire legally.

Even an employee at the New Jersey Department of Labor got caught up in the net.

B of A had a spokesperson claiming that only about 75 persons were "affected" and had been notified.

Bovine Scatology. That's the only ones they know about or are willing to admit to. This thing has been going on for four years which means they haven't got a clue as to how many people were "affected." Somewhere out there on dozens, maybe hundreds of shady, underhanded, low-life data miners' computers are these records and variants of them.

Information about everyone doing business with Creditoris Squaliformes is bought and sold, almost instantly. More than one time. It is re-sold over and over again on the ever-growing gray and black market for such things.

The Creditoris Squaliformes industry would have everyone believe these kinds of situations are rare. But they know they aren't. For every Lembo who gets caught, there are dozens like him and hundreds of less-detectable, lower-grade schemers with their insider contacts. And they share with others like themselves to exchange valuable information about people.

The Squaliformes will dance to the tune of their PR firms and carefully avoid taking responsibility for these leaks, knowing full well there isn't a damn thing they can do about a determined snoop with a bankroll from collections companies and their law firms.

Life on the other side of the Pecos is interesting for folks. Over here we'd just hang Lembo and the slimeball lawyers and collectors, toss the bank employees in prison for 30 years, their bosses in for 10 and get on with life - in private.

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

As if y'all didn't have enough to worry about

The Squaliformes and their pardners in the collections industry are getting more and more creative all the time, and with all the news about the techno-geek scammers lurking on the Internet, the really creative Echeneidae Collectoris are emulating the hackers and phishers.

Take the example of "John," who got tired of telemarketing calls, took the time to get on the "do not call" list, changed his phone to unlisted and when that didn't stop harassment from a collector, he disconnected the phone and like many people today, simply uses his cell phone.

For the collectors and skip tracers, this is a problem. Well, not for all of them. If they don't have a willing insider in the phone company (and many do), a little cooperation from some of the more helpful credit card issuers can get him the email addresses of the customers who had registered on the card company's web site. But rather than open up the can of worms revealing or using that supposedly "confidential" information, the collector involved had concocted a "phishing" email message that notified the customer that his credit card information needed to be validated by clicking on a URL that looked like it was the card company, but it actually went to a site set up by the collector.

Among the information requested in order to have someone actually call to assure the card was still safe was a phone number and a best time to call. In fact, the message said that this couldn't be done securely via email so it was imperative that he provide a phone number so someone from the card company could call him.

It worked. He dutifully filled out the contact information (they already had his card number, of course), and within a day he got a call - from the collection firm he had told to never call again.

Echeneidae Collectoris is indeed cunning.

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Exposing yet another enabler

Lurking under the radar of most consumers is yet another company routinely gathering information about everyone and selling it.

Well, not quite everyone anymore. At least not the citizens of the State of Utah.

Now - for a bit of clarification in case someone goes looking: The data snoop-and-sell perpetrator operates under something called "Explore Information Services," but that is a dba for "Robot Aided Manufacturing Center, Inc.," which is actually part of The Schwan Food Company.

For the more curious, the gory details of the particular case can be found here:


But to save time, this Court would like everyone to be aware of what this company is and what they do. Excerpted from the background of the case:

Explore is a Minnesota corporation, registered to do business in the State of Utah. As part of its business, Explore obtains driving record information contained within the motor vehicle records of various states and provides it to insurance companies for underwriting, rating, and claims investigating purposes. Pursuant to an agreement between Explore and the Utah Department of Public Safety's Driver License Division (the Division), which agreement has expired, Explore had received information concerning Utah drivers from the Division, on a monthly basis, since December 1996. The information Explore received was a list of all licensed Utah drivers who had received moving vehicle citations that were reported to the Division during the prior month. The information Explore received included a person's name, driver license number, date of birth, type of driving violation, and the date when the violation was recorded in the Division's database.(1) Explore would then match the names of those individuals reported for violations with names of individuals insured by the various insurance companies to whom Explore provides its services. The district court noted in its findings of fact that, through these reports, Explore obtained the identities of, and information about, 21,726 individuals in June of 2000, and 22,932 in July of 2000. The court also noted that Explore only successfully matches, on average, about 2% of those individuals reported with persons actually insured with the various insurance companies for which Explore works. In other words, 2% of what Explore learns as a kind of busy-body for hire is properly its business, while 98% is not.

Kudos to the Utah Judiciary on this one! As well as the bureaucrats who had the nerve to stand up to the snoops in the first place.

And Schwan's trucks are hereby banned on this side of the Pecos.

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Blogger Blocking Banditos Beaten

It would appear certain miscreants being exposed here brought about a lower-than-a-snake's-belly response and got someone to prevent further revelations; but what would one expect?

For weeks, the blog has been locked out by the mysterious and supposedly unfixable problem of having the password changed without this Court's knowledge, let alone approval.

Then the games begin. Now, after many emails and finally taking the time (and paying) to have a lawsuit prepared for filing in US District Court, blogger.com magically restores the original password - which they said couldn't be done!

Needless to say the backlog of cases is significant - bear with the Court while I hunt down the Clerk we released on vacation while all this was going on.

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Industry "experts" prove their arrogance

With all the noise about the leak-ridden consumer data brokers coming to light, one would think some bright bulb out there would have picked up on a connection this Court made.

News accounts indicate the folks at LexisNexis got hacked into. Well, that's not exactly the story. Turns out that notable squaliforme enabler ate one of it's more sinister siblings, Seisint in September of 2004.

And what's the connection?

Seisint is one of the companies behind the Multistate Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange Program (MATRIX). In case you're wondering what that is, it was an outgrowth of a working group between the Feds and state law enforcement agencies.

It was Seisint that got hacked into. Some 32,000 people have had their private information stolen.

"Criminals found a way to compromise the logins and passwords of a handful of legitimate customers to get access to the database," said Kurt Sanford, the company's chief executive.
Well, that sounds like a reasonable explanation to the uniformed and unsuspicious, Mr. Sanford - but it's probably a well-crafted PR statement that falls short of actually admitting the entire consumer snooping industry is hiding more than they are revealing.

Seisint's "Accurint" database sells reports that have Social Security numbers, past addresses, dates of birth as well as voter registration (party affiliation) data. Supposedly, credit and medical records (which are also there) weren't accessed.

Now doesn't that just make us all feel safer?

Mr. Sanford belongs in jail, but the buffoons in Washington are bent on having 'big brother' in place under the guise of "anti-terrorism," so it's up to this Court (again).

Set one foot west of the Pecos, Sanford and you'll get to experience the hospitality of one of our jail cells.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Just a small diversion - right!

[Note from the clerk: What was supposed to be a short-lived project to assist someone turned into a marathon event of unexpected proportions, such that this Court has been passing off cases left and right. No longer.]

Things have only deteriorated as the Squaliformes advance their agenda in Washington, and evidence of their ever-growing power means those of us who seek to expose them for what they are are just going to have to find more hours in the day.

So, in recognition of his abject disregard for the privacy of average people, Derek Smith, the CEO of ChoicePoint is this month's poster-child for slime as he swore before a House committee that there was some "soul searching" going on at the company.

Mr. Smith, don't bother searching. You're not going to find one in the company you operate to secretly gather information about everyone and sell it for specious purposes.

The myth Mr. Smith and his PR flacks have spent months concocting (that the company was somehow scammed by crooks who posed as "legitimate" businesses) doesn't hold water in this court.

ChoicePoint is the tip of the supposedly newly discovered iceberg of congressionally-protected corporate invasion of personal privacy. If they can come up with a customer to buy it, they will find a way to get it (legitimate or otherwise), package it with other information, sell it and then find more of the same kinds of customer to repeat the process.

Then they'll point to their customers as the problem and hide the real issue - their insatiable thirst for more knowledge about everyone.


And of course, no one will be prosecuted. A lot of hand-wringing on the part of their pals in Washington will provide political protection for the sleeping watchdogs in Congress, namely the committee chairs who have been more than happy to keep taking the Squaliformes money while exposing citizens to these risks and ignoring the calls for legitimate limitations.

And let's not forget the PR opportunities for people like the AG of Texas, who jumped on the fast-moving bandwagon and said:

"Recent events in California, New York and elsewhere involving ChoicePoint, DSW Shoe Warehouse, LexisNexis and other companies that store sensitive data show an alarming breakdown of security that has compromised consumers' sensitive personal information," said Attorney General Abbott. "Names, Social Security numbers, driver's license numbers and financial information of hundreds of thousands of consumers, many in Texas, may have been compromised or even unleashed to identity thieves. This trend must be halted now and the perpetrators brought to justice."

And where was Mr. Abbott when consumer groups were warning of the dangers of unlimited personal information mining? Nowhere to be found.

And why are these sleepy supposed consumer watchdogs still refusing to see that the problem isn't in the protection of the data being held, but in the whole concept of collecting it without the permission of the consumers?

Protection of data is meaningless, hopeless and merely window-dressing. It's like treating gunshot wounds without realizing the guy with the gun needs to be put away after his first killing.

Don't count on firm and effective prosecution and punishment; the corporate death-penalty isn't available for malfeasance as long as big business is in charge in Washington. And the miniscule fines (if any) aren't going to impact anyone's decision-making.

As far as this court is concerned, Derek Smith should be behind bars and ChoicePoint and other similar business spies should be put out of business.

Wish they were here on this side of the Pecos. We'd have a grand ol' time. Now, where's that cattle prod? Somebody's been moving things while I've been gone!

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean.