CFPB and New York Attorney General take action against companies that defrauded 9/11 victims

WASHINGTON, DC – The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the New York City Attorney today took action against RD Legal Funding, two related companies, and the companies’ founder and owner, Roni Dersovitz, to resolve their allegations that the defendants engaged in fraudulent and engaged in abusive acts or practices under the Consumer Financial Protection Act (CFPA) in connection with offering cash advances to individuals on their Victim Compensation Fund Settlement Payments.

The injured consumers are entitled to payments from a compensation fund set up for injured 9/11 first responders, known as the James Zadroga 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund. If accepted by the court, the proposed settlement will provide more than $600,000 in debt relief for consumers who prevent defendants from doing business with potential recipients of federally created 9/11 victim compensation funds and a $1 fine impose.

RD Legal Funding, RD Legal Finance and RD Legal Funding Partners are non-banking companies headquartered in Cresskill, New Jersey. Along with Roni Dersovitz, they offer funds, among other things, to consumers who are entitled to compensation under a settlement fund or judgment.

On February 7, 2017, the CFPB and the New York Attorney General filed a complaint against the defendants, and on July 14, 2022, an amended complaint, alleging that the defendants made false statements to potential borrowers and engaged in abusive practices in the Involved in connection with cash advances via severance payments from victim compensation funds. RD Legal provided lump sum advances to consumers who were eligible for future payments from Victim Compensation Funds in exchange for the consumers’ promises of later repayment of larger amounts. As a result, RD Legal made false statements and otherwise impacted consumers’ ability to understand transactions. Although RD Legal incorrectly referred to them as “assignments,” these transactions were not valid assignments, but rather offers of credit extensions or credit extensions. Specifically, the joint lawsuit alleges that the defendants:

  • Misrepresentation of the terms of the transaction: Defendants misrepresented to consumers that RD Legal’s contracts created valid and enforceable assignments of their payment proceeds, when in fact the assignments were not valid and enforceable. By doing so, they misled consumers, hindered their understanding of the terms, costs, and terms of the transactions and prevented them from meaningfully evaluating the cost of RD Legal’s transactions or comparing them to other alternatives.
  • Song about RD Legal services: Defendants misrepresented to consumers that RD Legal could “cut red tape” to get their expected payments from claims adjusters faster than would otherwise be possible. In fact, RD Legal had neither the authority nor the ability to influence claims administrators’ administration of payments.
  • Deceived consumers as to when they would be paid: Defendants misrepresented consumers as to when they would receive funds from RD Legal. In many cases, RD Legal informed consumers that they would receive the promised funds from RD Legal shortly after signing the contract, but had not delivered the promised funds.
  • Money collected but not owed: RD Legal collected for contracts that were void or where no payment was due because the assignment in RD Legal’s contract was not actually valid and enforceable, or because RD Legal’s product was actually a loan with an interest rate that violated state usury laws violated .

enforcement actions

Under the CFPA, the CFPB has the authority to take action against entities that violate consumer finance laws, including engaging in any unfair, deceptive, or abusive act or practice. The joint lawsuit alleges that the defendants violated the CFPA’s prohibition on fraudulent and abusive conduct.

If the proposed order is implemented by the court, the defendants must:

  • Debt consumers: Defendants are required to provide over $600,000 in debt relief to aggrieved consumers.
  • Stop Doing Business with Recipients of 9/11 Victim Compensation Funds: The defendants are permanently barred from doing business with the recipients of the Zadroga Fund or other potential recipients of federally established 9/11 Victim Compensation Funds.
  • Pay a $1 penalty: The defendants are required to pay the CFPB a fine, which is paid into the CFPB’s Victim Assistance Fund. The imposition of the $1 civil fine in this case allows consumers to potentially receive compensation from the Victim Assistance Fund. The CFPB will work expeditiously to provide full redress to eligible injured consumers from this fund, provided monies remain available in the fund.

Read today’s order proposal.

Consumers can file complaints about financial products or services by visiting the CFPB’s website or by calling (855) 411-CFPB (2372).

Employees of companies that they believe their company has violated state consumer finance laws are encouraged to send information of their knowledge to [email protected]

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The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is a 21st-century agency that helps consumer financial markets work by making rules more effective, enforcing those rules consistently and fairly, and empowering consumers to take more control of their economic lives. For more information visit www.consumerfinance.gov.

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