WRAL Investigates

NC files suit against company accused of scamming Granville couple, others

Posted May 16

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper

— North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper announced Friday that he has filed a lawsuit against a Chicago-based debt settlement company that's accused of scamming a Granville County couple and more than 400 others.

Cooper says the company, Legal Helpers Debt Resolution, took more than $1.1 million from 412 North Carolinians from 2010 through April 2012 and failed to provide them with help to reduce their debts.

The suit also names the company's principals, Jeffrey Hyslip, Jason Searns, Jeffrey Aleman and Thomas Macey.

"Consumers overwhelmed with debt need real help, not schemers looking to make a quick buck off of them," Cooper said in a statement. "We pushed for a strong law in North Carolina that makes it illegal to collect money upfront for debt relief work, and we’ll keep enforcing the law against violators."

Cooper is asking the court to ban the defendants from offering debt settlement services in the state. The proposed court order seeks to prevent the company from taking payments or entering into contracts with any future customers in North Carolina. Cooper also wants the company to pay refunds to previous customers and civil penalties.

A 2005 state law made it illegal to charge an upfront fee for foreclosure assistance.

WRAL News reported on a Granville County couple, Ronald and Brenda Williams, who paid the company $5,000 to help them get out of foreclosure.

The company "gave them six months of stories about, 'Don't worry about your mortgage. We got you covered. We got your back. Don't make your payments, just pay us,'" said Ann Saccoccio of the DuRant Law Firm, who worked to help the Williamses keep their home. "They were able to rob this couple of their home and their trust."

Ten anonymous businessmen heard about the couple's story and committed to pay $40,000 to help save the house from foreclosure.

"There is no fast, easy way out of financial troubles," Cooper said. “Don’t put yourself deeper in a hole by falling for empty promises to settle your debt for pennies on the dollar."

For tips on getting out of debt or to file a complaint with Cooper’s Consumer Protection Division, visit www.ncdoj.gov.

6 Comments

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  • scubagirl2 May 16, 12:22 p.m.

    GOOD!!!

  • djofraleigh May 16, 12:28 p.m.

    Go get them, Roy, and report how much money was recovered and returned, and who went to jail for how long.

    These crooks use Obama's name and "government" programs as bait.

  • SomeRandomGuy May 16, 12:51 p.m.

    Funny how the AG does his job AFTER the media gets a hold of a story. This may not be as widespread as the Raleigh Geeks computer repair shops, but there were years of complaints about them.

  • caronia49 May 16, 3:29 p.m.

    If you borrow money to get things you can not afford, then you will lose what you purchased, it is just that simple...And "Ole Roy" or anyone else will not help, they will just increase the pressure on you, and get their names in the media for being the good guys....What a joke...

  • AliceBToklas May 16, 3:40 p.m.

    I'm glad to see them go after these criminals. Too many get away with scamming the gullible. The elderly and less fortunate are all too often the targets because they are less sophisticated and unable to sniff out the scam.

  • paulej May 16, 5:31 p.m.

    From their web site, "Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome." So, were there ever any guarantees made to lower debt? Sound like "no". Sounds like they try to help, but... people read into it what they want to read into it.