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Protecting People from Fraud and Unfair Debt Collection

Chris Livingston Esq.

PO Box 220

White Oak NC 28399

Phone 910 876 7001

Email chrisatty@hotmail.com, usriflecaliber30m1@yahoo.com, chris@fairdebtlawyer.com

 

Most of my practice is consumer advocacy under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which is a federal law, and the North Carolina state laws--the North Carolina Collection Agency Act (NCCAA), NCGS Chapter 58 Article 70, and the North Carolina Debt Collection Act (NCDCA), Chapter 75 Article 2, which applies to creditors' own debt collection efforts.  I also defend people who’ve been sued for a debt, and though I can’t guarantee results, I do my homework and if there’s a lawful way to win, I will try to find it. 

Please note that 910 876 7001 is my only phone number.

I've done away with the former land line to make things simple.

My only mailing address is PO Box 220, White Oak NC 28399.  Don't mail things to the physical address (2154 Dowd Dairy Road) because the Postal Service will probably return it to you, but that's the one to use for delivery services that can't put things in PO boxes.

Since 2003, I have seen FDCPA, NCCAA, and NCDCA violated just about every which way you can think of, and some ways you can't.  The human misery inflicted by the collection industry is just beyond belief, and as often as not, the creditor is actually a junk debt buyer who picked up the paper for a few pennies, or A penny, or less than a penny, on the dollar.  None of the amount collected goes to the poor stiffed original creditor who actually lent the money--all of it goes to enrich those who did nothing to earn it.  And the junk debt buyer, and any collection agencies or lawyers they hire, will do almost anything, legal or illegal, to get "their" money.

But now there's an even worse problem--debt elimination and credit repair scams.  Most of the heavily advertised debt settlement outfits are purely fraudulent, in that they keep your money without even trying to negotiate your debts down--as if credit card companies and collectors would even take them seriously.  All--not most, all--of those who say they can "reduce your debt to zero" or "eliminate," "invalidate," "erase," or "reconcile" your debt are complete scams.  I'll explain in more detail on another page, but for at least 25 years, people have been trying the "vapor money" theory of debt relief.  According to vapor money proponents, the money that banks lend doesn't really exist and need not be repaid, and also, creditors always violate the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) and the Truth In Lending Act (TILA).  Therefore, these scammers say, all you have to do is dispute your debts in just the right way, and if the creditor doesn't respond in just the right way, which they never do, then you can safely stop paying your debt and your creditors can't touch you.  What's more, you'll hear, if you send enough dispute letters to the credit bureaus that invoke section so-and-so of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), then your bad tradelines will disappear and your credit score will be in the 700s or even over 800!  We'll tell you how to do this, say the scammers, for only a few thousand bucks up front.

Funny, sure, from a safe distance.  But people who've lost their jobs, lost their businesses, gotten sick and disabled, and are at the end of their ropes will listen to anything that sounds good.  Scammers know this, and are experts in pushing lies that their victims half believe already and wish to believe entirely.  In the end, of course, the victim has given up their last few thousand dollars, and in return is looking at probably double their previous debt, endless collection calls, a lawsuit or three, and the loss of everything their family ever worked for.  The scammers know this, and they don't care.

My goal is to make them care.  This conduct is illegal under many laws, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act (CROA).  The two most common CROA violations are taking money before the work is done, and claiming to be able to repair or restore credit when in fact they can't.  CROA doesn't apply to not-for-profit agencies, so what scammers love to do is set up a not-for-profit front that pays most of its revenue to very-much-for-profit contractors owned by the same scammers.  Because they use the U.S. Mail and interstate communication systems to defraud citizens and federally insured banks, debt elimination scams often amount to racketeering enterprises whose management is subject to the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and state RICO laws.  Most states have unfair trade laws that allow you to sue for damages caused by deceptive acts and practices.  RICO provides for triple damages, as do many consumer protection laws, and other laws such as CROA allow punitive damages.  All of them that I can think of provide for court costs and (my favorite) reasonable attorney fees if the consumer wins.  Since scammers' legal advice is nearly always wrong and they know it, they might be liable for legal malpractice!  If all of that isn't enough, then scammers are subject to the golden oldies of common law, like fraud and breach of contract.

My business comes in by word of mouth and just from people I meet.  You’d be amazed how many people have had unfavorable run-ins with collection agencies and collection law firms.  In my experience, the so-called "collection attorneys" are for the most part nothing more than collection agencies with the most unbelievably rude and deceitful staff members.  Do not let them intimidate you because they are calling from a "law office" and do not let them get away with violating any laws.

 

Some of my basic qualifications are:

 

BS Philosophy, North Carolina State University

MS Tax, University of Miami School of Business

Juris Doctor, University of Miami School of Law

FAA Aviation Mechanic Certificate, Airframe and Powerplant Ratings

FAA Private Pilot Certificate

North Carolina Basic Law Enforcement Training

Working on my associate’s degree in Criminal Justice at Bladen Community College

Member of the North Carolina State Bar and The Florida Bar

Admitted to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, the U.S. District Courts for the Eastern District of North Carolina, and the Northern and Southern Districts of Florida

  

DISCLAIMERS: Nothing here is intended as legal advice and nothing here will create an attorney-client relationship.  All citizens are free to look up the law for themselves and to represent themselves in court.  Everything here is my own opinion and not that of any client, employer, employee, agent, law enforcement agency, media outlet, court, certification board, or government entity.

 KEYWORDS: consumer law, consumer protection, collection defense, fair debt collection, FDCPA, FCRA, FCBA, TILA, NCCAA, NCDCA, RICO, NCRICO, debt elimination, debt reconciliation, debt validation, debt invalidation, credit restoration, credt repair, scam, scammer, fraud, vapor money

Updates on some cases (NCED means U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina):

Taylor v. Bettis, NCED 7:09cv183-F--This is the big one, with 32 defendants, all related to the former Credit Collections Defense Network.  Some defendants, we have since learned, are penniless and are not worth the effort and expense of serving them; we'll leave them to law enforcement for the time being.  Motions to dismiss are pending for the Emanuel & Dunn defendants, as well as for the South Carolina defendants and Philip M. Manger.  There's no telling when the judge will get around to deciding these.  The rest of the defendants were served but did not defend, and the clerk of court has entered default against them, with damages to be proved later.

Hunt v. R.K. Lock & Associates, Bladen County 08CVD883; Lucas v. R.K. Lock & Associates, Bladen County 08CVD884; Harrison v. Aegis Corporation, Bladen County 08CVD885--These are also related to the former Credit Collections Defense Network.  The trial court dismissed all defendants, even the ones who never appeared, for lack of personal jurisdiction.  We believe this is erroneous, because among other things, the defendants reached into this state and caused damage by telling people to send them money to other states, which satisfies the North Carolina longarm statute.  Next stop is the North Carolina Court of Appeals, and we have served proposed records on appeal to opposing counsel.  He, in turn, is resigning from all three cases, and his clients will have until 06 July 2010 to object to our records.

Southwood v. The Credit Card Solution, NCED 7:09cv81-F--The fourth (Taylor v. Bettis is the fifth) CCDN case and the one farthest along.  Defendants' motions to dismiss and our motions for summary judgment and appointment of receivers are all pending, and have been since October 2009.  What's holding the decisions up is Robert M. Lindsey's pending bankruptcy case in the Southern District of Texas, but he has stipulated to the Texas Attorney General's motion to dismiss it, and the judge should be signing that in the next few weeks.

Manuel v. Gembala, NCED 7:10cv4-FL--This relates to the former Secure Property Solutions of Barrington NJ and its key figures Joseph A. Gembala III, Esq., Michael Malone, and Christopher Frisch.  Joe Gembala's motion to dismiss and our motions for class certification and for appointment of receivers are pending, and we don't know when the judge will decide them.  About 80 people from 27 states have called me asking how they can get in on it (we estimate 1,100 people were customers of SPS/Gembala) and I say all you really have to do is wait for notices relating to possible class settlement in a few months, if the judge certifies a class.  Law enforcement interest in this matter is considerable, and although just what they're doing is not public yet, indictments and arrests are likely in the near future.

Rodriguez v. Irwin, NCED 7:10cv102-D--Relates to the herbal product known as Dual Action Cleanse and the well-known Klee Irwin & James Chappell infomercial, which assures us that great health starts in the colon and all you need is to buy DAC at a "deep initial discount" for natural cleansing of "toxins" and "undigested red meat" that "slow you down and make you feel sick."  Quite a few people have reported online that the product does not work or has flat out made them sick, and given the random nature of the dozens of herbs and "natural" ingredients, most of them ineffective and the rest of them potentially harmful, this is not surprising.  People are equally exercised about the "auto-ship" program that they didn't know they signed up for until their credit cards showed charges for months on end for unordered merchandise, further inflated with huge "shipping and handling" charges for a few pill bottles, and "rush delivery" that nobody asked for and doesn't get the product there any faster.  Did we mention that "colonic health" and "toxic buildup" are centuries-old junk science that real scientists disproved long ago?  Did we mention that "5 to 22 pounds of undigested red meat" is completely made up and no colonoscopy or autopsy ever shows anything like that?  This case has just started and the defendants' answers aren't due yet.

 

BLOG SAMPLE--old posts--for the latest and greatest, head over to www.fairdebtlawyer.blogspot.com

  

2006-11-08: No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

 

            If the election yesterday was about Iraq, there’s all the proof you need that the media refuses to report the war accurately.  Democrats can get elected only when they pretend not to be Democrats, e.g., Shuler over there in the NC mountains.  Although he wouldn’t commit to voting for Nan Pelosi, he of course will help coronate the San Francisco Treat as Speaker.  Bush 43 and Sidekick Dick, PLEASE stay alive.

            In part, Republicans gotta sigh and say, well that’s show biz.  You can’t win them all or even most, when the media is so against you and the Democrat programs sound and feel so good that Republicans have to raise five times as much campaign money just to break even.  But today is the first day of the 2008 campaign, and unless you want to fall prostrate before Emperor Hillary in two years, those who love freedom had better get going immediately.  On to a Fourth Amendment case or two:

UNITED STATES V. FARRIOR, 2006 U.S.Dist. LEXIS 80560 (W.D.Va. 03 Nov 2006).  Pulaski, VA police got tipped that a car with a certain license plate was involved in drug trafficking in Pulaski.  Five days later, Officer Morris on patrol spotted that vehicle and stopped it for no tag light.  Sergeant Anderson heard or was told of the stop and proceeded to the scene.  Dispatch called in K9 Officer Dowdy from his home just blocks away from the stop.  Defendant’s license and reg checked good.  Officer Morris returned his license and reg, warned him about the tag light and freed him to go, then asked for consent to search the vehicle, which Defendant granted.

Officer Morris was searching when Sergeant Anderson arrived and asked Defendant about prior drug convictions, which Defendant said were a long time ago.  Officer Morris finished the search with negative results, but retook Defendant’s license and reg to write a warning ticket at Sergeant Anderson’s direction; Officer Morris was new didn’t know he was supposed to do that.  Officer Morris was explaining the ticket to Defendant when Officer Dowdy and his K9 partner arrived about 37 minutes after the initial stop, and Sergeant Anderson said Defendant had consented to a search.  The K9 alerted on the trunk.  Thus enlightened, the officers found white powdery substance in the trunk, noticed where interior panels had been altered, and asked Defendant to remove his boots, which he did, and in the insoles were cocaine base and $2,720 U.S. currency, whereupon he was arrested.

Defendant bailed out of jail and three weeks later, Roanoke, VA police found him on the ground with three bullet wounds.  At the hospital, he would not cooperate in identifying his assailant(s), and police found his rental car a block away from the shooting site.  After towing it and obtaining a search warrant, police found Defendant’s boot in the trunk, and in the boot was over a pound of crack.  Upon his discharge from the hospital, federal agents arrested Defendant for possession with intent to distribute.  Defendant was not Mirandized or interrogated.  In the elevator on the way to the U.S. Marshals’ office, Defendant asked what had become of the three people who shot him, and was told the Roanoke police were handling that.  Defendant said “well they shot me because they didn’t want to pay me!”

Upon Defendant’s motion to suppress, the court ruled that the initial stop was valid, complying with the Fourth Circuit rule that a proper investigative stop occurs when an officer requests license and reg, runs a computer check, and issues a citation.  After that, the burden was on the government to show that the warrantless search was subject to an exception, such as consent.  Since Officer Morris returned Defendant’s reg and license and told him he was free to go, Defendant was free to consent or not to the subsequent search.  Though Officer Morris should have issued the citation immediately, he explained that he would rather give warnings, and only wrote the ticket when Sergeant Anderson told him he had to, and now he knew.  There was no subterfuge, just an honest lack of knowledge.  Under these circumstance, the stop did not take too long.  Air is free and K9s detect only contraband, so the sniff stood.  Defendant’s question and inculpatory statement in the elevator were voluntary, if ill-advised.  The Fourth and Fifth Amendments were not offended at any point.  Motion to suppress DENIED.

 

 

 

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