The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the New York attorney general have filed a lawsuit against RD Legal Funding, LLC, as well as Roni Dersovitz, the company’s founder and owner, for allegedly scamming 9/11 heroes out of money they needed to cover medical costs, lost income and other needs.
A press release announced the lawsuit, which details how an illegal scheme deceived 9/11 first responders with cancer and other illnesses, as well as football players with brain injuries, out of millions of dollars by luring them into costly advances on settlement payouts with lies about the terms of the deals. In the suit filed in federal court, the CFPB and the New York attorney general want to put an end to the company’s illegal practices and impose penalties, as well as get relief for the victims.
Based in Cresskill, NJ, RD Legal offers advances to consumers entitled to payouts from victim compensation funds or lawsuit settlements. The company targeted police, firefighters, paramedics and other first responders at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, who now suffer from cancer and other respiratory illnesses related to their exposure to dust and debris at the attack site. Many also are inflicted with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and memory loss. In fact, more than 37,000 are officially recognized as sick.
The Zadroga Fund was established by Congress to assist with needs, including mounting medical costs and lost income because of their inability to work. RD Legal allegedly fronted first responders money until their payments from the Zadroga Fund arrived but lied about the terms of the deal. For example, one consumer was awarded $65,000 from the Zadroga Fund, and while she waited for her payment, RD advanced her $18,000. When her payment from the fund arrived six months later, she had to repay $33,000 to RD Legal, meaning she paid the company $15,000 more than the money it advanced to her.
RD Legal also targeted former NFL players who have been diagnosed with neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, and were entitled to payments from the settlement in a class-action lawsuit.
“The alleged actions by RD Legal — scamming 9/11 heroes and former NFL players struggling with severe injuries — are simply shameful. RD Legal used deceptive tactics to charge unlawfully high interest rates for advances on settlement and compensation funds, allowing them to profit off the backs of these unsuspecting individuals,” said New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. “My office will do all it can to end the fraudulent practices employed by RD Legal, recoup the illegal amounts charged by this company and make these victims whole again.”