On September 2, the United States District Court of the Southern District of Florida granted multiple motions for temporary restraining orders (TROs) by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in the matter of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau v. Orion Processing, LLC, Bradley James Haskins, World Law Debt Services, LLC, and World Law Processing, LLC.   The CFPB originally filed a Complaint under the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010 and the Telemarketing and Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act based on Defendants’ violations of the CFPA and the Telemarketing Sales Rule.  The TROs include an asset freeze, injunctive relief, and other equitable relief against both World Law and its principals

The CFPB alleges that “Defendants’ marketers lure consumers into signing up for debt settlement services by falsely promising that consumers will be represented by local attorneys and that they will negotiate with consumers’ creditors to settle their debts.  Defendants are debt settlement veterans who joined forces after federal law changed to prevent fraud by banning the taking of up-front fees before settling consumers’ debts.  In an apparent attempt to circumvent that new law, Defendants began claiming that they provide legal representation,” but continued charging consumers up-front fees for debt relief services.

The CFPB estimates that 21,000 consumers across the country have paid more than $67 million in unlawful advance fees to World Law, who ultimately provide little or none of the services promised to consumers.  According to the agency, 99 percent of World Law’s customers were made to pay illegal upfront fees, including a $199 initial fee, a monthly attorney service fee of $85, and other “bundled legal service fees” that ranged from 10 to 15 percent of the consumers’ outstanding debt.

According to the CFPB, World Law and its affiliates made false representations about the quality and level of service World Law purported to provide.  Consumers rarely, if ever, met or communicated with actual lawyers and, “[a]s a result, consumers paid millions of dollars in illegal fees and suffered additional harms, including being subjected to collection calls, lawsuits, late fees and lower credit scores,” the agency said.

According to court documents, World Law, Orion Processing, and Family Capital have all entered into bankruptcy.