McGraw files suit over fraudulent debt management services

Keith Loria May 11, 2009, 12:40pm

Darrell McGraw (D)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Legal Newsline) - West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw is suing a Florida man and his companies over an allegedly fraudulent credit counseling scheme.

The lawsuit targets James R Armstrong, Jr. of Coral Springs, Fla., who allegedly masterminded a web of for-profit companies to enrich himself under the guise of providing debt management services through shell companies.

The suit also names numerous Florida-based companies owned or controlled by Armstrong, including Family Credit Counseling Corporation; Debt Solutions Foundation, Inc.; Top Financial Sales & Marketing, Inc.; Consumer Financial Marketing, Inc.; Consumer Debt Management & Education, Inc.; JRA Property & Land Management, LLC; and Vegga Corporation.

McGraw's lawsuit seeks to recoup all payments unlawfully taken from the approximately 250 West Virginia consumers who were victimized by Armstrong's allegedly fraudulent practices.

"It is regrettable that consumers who contacted Armstrong's companies in good faith seeking genuine debt relief were instead charged unlawful fees for virtually no assistance in eliminating their debt," the Democratic attorney general said. "Instead of helping them to 'achieve a debt free life,' as promised by Armstrong's Web site, the overcharges and mismanaged funds compounded consumers' debts through increased interest, late fees, and other charges and also caused long-term damage to their credit ratings."

The lawsuit also names American Debt Counseling, Inc. of Sunrise, Fla., the company that agreed to pay as much as $250,000 to Armstrong for the rights to service his debt management accounts.

The attorney general does not allege that the company was involved in the fraudulent scheme, but maintains that they should withhold any payments to Armstrong and not collect any new fees from any West Virginia consumers until all unlawful fees have been refunded.

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