RD Legal Funding is being sued for allegedly scamming 9/11 heroes out of money for medical costs, lost income, and other needs, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the New York Attorney General’s Office said Tuesday. RD Legal also allegedly conned National Football League concussion victims.
The illegal scheme deceived 9/11 first responders with cancer and other illnesses and 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, the agencies allege.
“It is unconscionable that RD Legal scammed 9/11 heroes and NFL concussion victims out of millions of dollars,” said Richard Cordray, director of the bureau. “We allege that this company and its owner lined their pockets with funds intended to cover medical care and other critical expenses for people who are sick and sidelined.”
RD Legal targeted consumers entitled to payouts from victim compensation funds or lawsuit settlements, including police, firefighters, paramedics, and others who were first responders to the World Trade Center attack on September 11, 2001. Many first responders suffer from cancers and other respiratory illnesses related to their exposure to dust and debris at the attack site, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and memory loss. They were awarded money from the Zadroga Fund, established by Congress to assist with needs including mounting medical costs and lost income because they couldn’t work.
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.
RD Legal contacted these consumers after they were awarded their money but before they received most of it, the agencies allege. RD Legal then swooped in with a “deal,” offering the victims an upfront payment of some of the money they hadn’t yet received which would be paid back when they received the balance of the payout. Through confusing contracts, RD Legal misrepresented to consumers their obligation to repay these expensive transactions, often collecting from the consumer more than twice what RD Legal had advanced months earlier.
In addition to luring consumers into costly payouts by lying about the deal’s terms, RD Legal lied about speeding up the processing of consumers’ claims, deceived consumers about when they would receive the money from RD Legal, and illegally collected money from consumers, the agencies allege.
Through the lawsuit, the agencies are seeking to stop the company’s illegal practices, get relief for the victims, and impose penalties.