No industry is impervious to scam artists, particularly companies that involve financing. Our not-for-profit organization, the Bairs Foundation, provides financial assistance to individuals who are pursuing justice and struggling to make ends meet. We work closely with caring plaintiffs’ attorneys to assess their clients’ needs, current financial situation, and where they are with their lawsuit. All of these items and more are taken into consideration when our foundation evaluates an individual’s request for pre-settlement funds.
Just last week, we were contacted by one of these caring attorneys. He had been contacted by a man in his thirties who was hit by a U-Haul truck after one of its tires blew with a U-Haul employee behind the wheel. The attorney was told that U-Haul was waving a $1.5 million release in front of this guy, who was now paralyzed from the waist down.
This attorney knew the case sounded like it was worth much more than that, and as he spoke with this man he offered to take him on as a client. In the meantime, however, the man needed $189.00 immediately in order to prevent eviction by his landlord. His Medicaid and Social Security would kick in in November, he said, but the landlord claimed that as long as the tenant could pay $189 now, he could keep his apartment until the government benefits applied.
This compassionate attorney felt for the paralyzed individual who was about to be out on the streets. He contacted the Bairs Foundation with the urgent request to provide the quick $189. We agreed to look into it and do our due diligence. In our fact-finding conversation with the client, things quickly became suspicious. Oddly enough, the landlord was at the home of the paralyzed tenant when I called. I asked the landlord to email me an agreement that the $189 would be all that he would demand until November, and the landlord said he didn’t have or know how to use email. When asked about a bank account to possibly send the funds to, the landlord requested Western Union. Red flags all around.
Shortly thereafter, the referring attorney called us back saying this was possibly a scam. His partner was able to quote word-for-word what these two people were saying without having been on the call with them. Upon further discussion with his community of trial lawyers, the attorney found that another law firm had been approached with the same thing. Unfortunately, this entire case was made up.
We take these scenarios seriously, because we know that individuals and insurance companies pull things like this on injured or disabled people. Thankfully, in this instance no one lost money, but we did lose time and resources looking into and corresponding with all parties. What we gained, though, was the invaluable reminder to make sure, as legal lenders, that we’re paying attention to the facts, following protocol, and doing our best to make sure only those who deserve funding receive it.
About John Bair
John Bair has guided thousands of plaintiffs through the settlement process. Motivated by a desire to assist others in protecting their financial well-being, John and his wife Amy established the Bairs Foundation. At seven percent simple interest, the organization provides the financial assistance families need during litigation. Read more at http://www.bairsfoundation.org/.
A West Point graduate where he served as captain and military aviator, John Bair continues his commitment to our country through his efforts within the settlement planning industry. He has represented families of victims lost in the Flight 3407 crash, offered pro bono services to the families of 9/11 victims and drafted the first consumer protection bill for plaintiffs (H.R. 3699).