Rutledge Reaches Settlement with MoneyGramThu, Feb 11, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today has reached a settlement with Dallas-based MoneyGram Payment Systems Inc. resolving a multistate investigation that tied MoneyGram to fraudulent activities based on complaints from consumers who used the company’s wire transfer service to send money to third parties involved in schemes to defraud consumers.
“Arkansans have heard it time and again, over the phone, in letters or in emails: ‘wire this amount of money and you will win big,’” said Attorney General Rutledge. “But these claims always turn out to be a scam, and if a consumer does wire money, it is almost impossible to get it back. MoneyGram failed to maintain effective anti-fraud measurers to prevent consumers from suffering financial losses as a result of these fraud induced transfers. Fortunately, thanks to this settlement, restitution payments will be made available to a number of Arkansans, and MoneyGram has agreed to improve its anti-fraud program, provide more warnings to consumers and improve agent training.”
Under the terms of the settlement, MoneyGram has agreed to maintain and continue to improve a comprehensive and robust anti-fraud program designed to help detect and prevent consumers from suffering financial losses as a result of these types of fraud induced wire transfers.
The program must be documented in writing and at a minimum must include the following elements:
- Mandatory and documented compliance training for agents and guidelines regarding when an agent’s conduct warrants suspension or termination.
- Suspension or termination of agents who fail to take commercially reasonable steps to reduce fraud induced money transfers.
- A hotline system – telephonic and electronic – where employees and agents can report noncompliance with anti-fraud measures.
- Sound mechanisms to evaluate actual fraud rates and consumer losses from fraud-induced money transfers in order to utilize that information to improve compliance.
- Continued enhancement of technology solutions, including its Anti-Fraud Alert System
Additionally, MoneyGram has agreed to pay a total of $13 million to states to fund a nationwide consumer restitution program and for the states’ costs and fees. The settlement provides for an independent third-party settlement administrator who will review MoneyGram records and send notices regarding restitution to all consumers who are eligible to receive it under the settlement. Generally, consumers who are eligible for restitution previously filed complaints with MoneyGram between July 1, 2008 and August 31, 2009, regarding fraud-induced transfers sent from the U.S. to foreign countries other than Canada.
More information about this settlement is available at the Settlement Administrator’s website, MoneyGramSettlement.com.
Rutledge reminds Arkansans who receive solicitations from strangers promising big winnings to toss those letters in the trash, delete the email or hang up the phone and those who are contacted about a grandchild, friend or family member in distress should reach out separately to the friend or family member to independently verify that the relative is actually in need of the assistance.
In addition to Arkansas, the following participated in the settlement: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and the District of Columbia.
Rutledge to Offer Trainings to Combat Dating ViolenceWed, Feb 10, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is continuing her push to raise awareness of domestic violence, sexual assault and dating violence by teaming up with Break the Cycle, a leading national nonprofit organization providing comprehensive dating abuse programs, to offer workshops across Arkansas on healthy relationships and dating abuse. The three-hour trainings will delve into the youth experience of dating abuse, including the health and academic impacts and how it differs from adult experiences.
“If we can teach teenagers how to handle dating violence and to create healthy relationships, it will help curb the constant cycle of teen dating violence leading to domestic violence,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I am proud to partner with Break the Cycle, the Arkansas Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Arkansas Coalition Against Sexual Assault and the Arkansas Department of Education to bring these important workshops here so that educators will be able to better communicate how to have healthy relationships. I encourage Arkansas teachers to take advantage of these trainings so that we can finally begin to break the cycle of abuse.”
Through Act 952, passed by the General Assembly in 2015, Arkansas students in grades 7 through 12 must receive instruction on dating violence awareness as a component of health courses. This training will give teachers the resources they need to comply with the act, and the Attorney General’s office is committed to supplying schools with dating violence awareness materials.
Participants will learn foundational knowledge about dating abuse, methods for intervention and instruction on how to implement a Healthy Relationships 101 session with their students or youth group. Using pop culture and media clips that are familiar to teens, the workshops will include discussions to help teens recognize abuse and become critical thinkers on how these images can affect teens’ views on healthy relationships.
Registration information can be found at ArkansasAG.gov.
Workshop attendees will hear from Jasmine Uribe and Sarah Colomé.
Uribe is a leader in the dating abuse prevention movement and serves as leadership and engagement manager for Break the Cycle, which includes overseeing Loveisrespect with the National Youth Advisory Board.
Colomé manages and implements all major projects and initiatives within Break the Cycle's Training and Technical Assistance Program, as well as provides technical assistance to grant recipients for the Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women.
Full workshop schedule details:
Southwest Educational Service Cooperative
2502 South Main
Hope, AR 71801
Little Rock School District Instructional Resource Center
3001 South Pulaski St.
Little Rock, AR 72206
Northwest Educational Service Cooperative
4 Double Springs Road
Farmington, AR 72730
Southeast Arkansas Educational Service Cooperative
1022 Scogin Drive
Monticello, AR 71655
Crowley’s Ridge Educational Service Cooperative
1606 Pine Grove Lane
Harrisburg, AR 72432
For more information, please contact the Attorney General’s office at (501) 682-2007.
Rutledge Statement on the U.S. Supreme Court’s Decision to Stay the EPA’s Clean Power PlanTue, Feb 9, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today released a statement after the U.S. Supreme Court stayed the Environmental Protection Agency’s so-called Clean Power Plan.
“The U.S. Supreme Court has given the people of Arkansas good news tonight,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “By granting a stay of the Clean Power Plan, the Court has prevented an unlawful, out-of-touch plan drafted by bureaucrats in Washington from moving forward until the legal challenges are properly resolved. This helps ensure that Arkansas and other states are not forced to comply with a rule that will likely be found unlawful and will skyrocket energy rates. The law could not be clearer that the EPA does not have the legal authority to implement this regulation, and I am confident that as this case moves forward the Courts will recognize this fact and prevent its full implementation.”
Rutledge was part of a bipartisan coalition of 29 states and state agencies that requested the stay.
Rutledge Fights Proposed Labor Rule that Targets Small BusinessesTue, Feb 9, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has sent a letter with 12 other states to the U.S. Office of Management and Budget voicing opposition to the Obama Administration’s proposed Persuader Advice Exemption Rule, which could force small businesses to disclose communications with outside counsel in labor relations matters.
The attorneys general believe the new rule would undermine long-standing protections for confidential attorney-client communications and would place undue burdens on small businesses, which would be singled out under the rule.
“Small businesses are already being hit with countless federal mandates and regulations that stifle job growth,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “If Arkansas small businesses are going to compete, then Washington needs to get out of the way. Arkansans want a government that works, not one that overregulates, which is why I am urging the administration to withdraw this proposed rule.”
“The new rule would cause particular harm to small businesses in our states. The reporting requirement applies specifically to outside consultants. Because many large corporations employ in-house counsels, they will have access to legal advice on labor matters, free of the disclosure concerns raised by the new rule. Small businesses, by their very nature, are less likely to employ in-house counsel. The burden of this new rule will fall chiefly on them, with heavy penalties if they fail to comply,” the attorneys general wrote.
The attorneys general point out that for more than 50 years, the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act has preserved the confidentiality of attorney-client communications by exempting attorney advice relating to labor relations issues from disclosure.
The letter, led by Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange, was signed by Rutledge and attorneys general from Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia.
Rutledge Announces Medicaid Fraud ConvictionsMon, Feb 8, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced the convictions of a Pulaski County man and a Dallas County, Texas, man for Medicaid fraud. The two men pleaded guilty in unrelated cases in the Pulaski County District Court. Each will serve one year probation and pay restitution and fines totaling over $3,000. Additionally, the Medicaid fraud convictions will be reported to federal authorities and may result in the defendants being excluded from participation as providers in the Medicaid and Medicare program for a period of up to 10 years.
“These convictions demonstrate the commitment of the Attorney General’s office to combat fraud in the Medicaid system,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Medicaid fraud special investigators work to detect individuals and organizations that are scamming the system or failing to provide all appropriate care to patients and clients dependent on the Arkansas Medicaid program. Those attempting to defraud Arkansans will be held accountable.”
Myron Thrash, 36, of Mabelvale pleaded guilty to Medicaid fraud, a Class A misdemeanor. Thrash billed the Arkansas Medicaid Program for services that were not rendered. He paid $846 in restitution to the Arkansas Medicaid Program Trust Fund and was fined $600.
Deandre Taybore, 32, of Desoto, Texas, pleaded guilty to Medicaid fraud, a Class A misdemeanor. Taybore billed the Arkansas Medicaid Program for services he did not provide. He paid $1,242 in restitution to the Arkansas Medicaid Program Trust Fund and was fined $600.
To report Medicaid fraud or abuse or neglect in residential care facilities, contact the Attorney General’s Medicaid fraud hotline at (866) 810-0016 or email@example.com.
Rutledge Reaches $470 Million Joint State-Federal Settlement with HSBCFri, Feb 5, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge along with 49 other states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reached a $470 million joint state-federal settlement today with mortgage lender and servicer HSBC to address mortgage origination, servicing and foreclosure abuses.
“Arkansans who were taken advantage of by the foreclosure abuses and loan modifications of HSBC are eligible for direct payments under this settlement,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “HSBC is being held accountable for the way it treated its borrowers, and the agreement requires HSBC to reform its ways and protect borrowers in future transactions.”
The agreement’s mortgage servicing terms largely mirrors the 2012 National Mortgage Settlement reached in February 2012 between the federal government, 49 state attorneys general, including Arkansas and the five largest national mortgage servicers. That agreement provided consumers nationwide with more than $50 billion in direct relief, created new servicing standards, and implemented independent oversight.
A subsequent state-federal agreement with SunTrust Mortgage Inc. worth nearly $1 billion was announced in June 2014.
The HSBC agreement requires the company to provide certain Arkansas borrowers with loan modifications or other relief. The modifications, which HSBC will choose through an extensive list of options, include principal reductions and refinancing for underwater mortgages. HSBC decides how many loans and which loans to modify, but must meet certain minimum targets. Because HSBC receives only partial settlement credit for many types of loan modifications, the settlement will provide relief to borrowers that will exceed the overall minimum amount.
Approximately 700 eligible Arkansas borrowers whose loans were serviced by HSBC and who lost their home to foreclosure from January 1, 2008 through December 31, 2012 and encountered servicing abuse will be eligible for a payment from the national $59.3 million fund for payments to borrowers. The borrower payment amount will depend on how many borrowers file claims.
Eligible borrowers will be contacted about how to qualify for payments.
The settlement requires HSBC to substantially change how it services mortgage loans, handles foreclosures and ensures the accuracy of information provided in federal bankruptcy court.
The terms will prevent past foreclosure abuses, such as robo-signing, improper documentation and lost paperwork.
The settlement’s consumer protections and standards include:
- Making foreclosure a last resort by first requiring HSBC to evaluate homeowners for other loss mitigation options.
- Restricting foreclosure while the homeowner is being considered for a loan modification.
- Procedures and timelines for reviewing loan modification applications.
- Giving homeowners the right to appeal denials.
- Requiring a single point of contact for borrowers seeking information about their loans and maintaining adequate staff to handle calls.
The agreement resolves potential violations of civil law based on HSBC’s deficient mortgage loan origination and servicing activities. The agreement does not prevent state or federal authorities from pursuing criminal enforcement actions related to this or other conduct by HSBC or from punishing wrongful securitization conduct that is the focus of the Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Working Group. Additionally, the agreement does not prevent any action by individual borrowers who wish to bring their own lawsuits.
The agreement will be filed as a consent judgment in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
For loans serviced by HSBC Bank USA, N.A., inquiries should be addressed to 1-866-435-7085 or the consumer’s case manager. For loans serviced by HSBC Mortgage Services, Household Finance or Beneficial, inquiries should be addressed to 1-800-333-7023 or the consumer’s single point of contact.