Accused of deceptive marketing – including supposedly sending letters to consumers on behalf of a judge who turned out to be a fictitious person – a structured settlement factoring company has entered into an agreement with the Maryland Attorney General’s office, and agreed to pay six figures in restitution and penalties.
The settlement between factoring company Annuity Sold and the Maryland AG also bars the company from doing business in Maryland for seven years.
The Maryland Attorney General said in a statement that at a number of Marylanders entered into agreements with Annuity Sold or one of its affiliates.
The settlement agreement provides that Annuity Sold must pay those structured settlement payees each a sum sufficient to make up the difference between the amount that was paid already and the discounted present value of the transferred future settlement payments.
In addition to the restitution payments totaling an estimated $450,000 or more, the settlement agreement also says that Annuity Sold is to pay a civil penalty of $400,000, most of which will be waived if the company complies with the settlement agreement.
The Maryland Attorney General accused Annuity Sold of making misrepresentations in thousands of mailings to Marylanders and payees in other states.
In one letter, according to the Maryland Attorney General, Annuity Sold represented that it was “signed by ‘Brian Miller’ from the ‘Marshall-McEven Nationwide Esquire Law Firm’ that was ‘retained to ensure that your rights are protected’ and was written on behalf of ‘Honorable Judge Larry C. David” The Maryland Attorney General said that representatives from Annuity Sold admitted in deposition testimony that the people and companies mentioned in the letters – including the Marshall-McEwen Nationwide Esquire Law Firm and Judge Larry David – did not exist.
The Maryland Attorney General said another letter contained the logo of the National Football League’s Baltimore Ravens football team – used without the permission of the team – and said that the letter’s recipient could “call today” to claim free tickets. Again, the Maryland AG said that the statements in such letters were false.
A Baltimore Sun news story, “Companies Accused Of Misleading Consumers About Settlements Will Pay Restitution, Attorney General’s Office Says”, is available here. The Maryland Attorney General’s statement concerning the settlement is available here.
The Maryland Attorney General has been active in connection with other structured settlement factoring matters. In 2016, the Maryland Attorney General filed suit against Access Funding, another structured settlement factoring company, accusing it of deceptive practices, and seeking to overturn more than 100 judicial orders that approved transfers of structured settlement payment rights from Maryland payees to Access Funding companies (as explained here). That lawsuit remains pending.