Complaint / review text:
My business, Legal Ease, assists people who have legal or other problems. Among my services, I write letters and advocate for them. A recent client in San Jose, CA, a realtor, contacted me about problems she has had with Money Tree Funding. Robert Beck, Sales Manager of Money Tree, contacted her by e-mail on May 12,2008. After researching some of the blogs on Money Tree Funding scams on the Internet, I found a post from a realtor regarding Money Tree. The e-mail sent to her was exactly the same e-mail my client received, word for word, same phone number, different extension and different "Sales Manager", same address.
After receiving the e-mail, my client contacted the office and she told them she works exclusively in active adult, over 55, senior, golf community. They prepared a form agreement, which described the Application Service Area as "95135 (9 applicants over 55 in the village golf area". She signed the agreement on May 13,2008 and had $500, a one month fee, charged to her credit card.
As soon as she started making calls, she realized she had been scammed. Some numbers were disconnected, some were young people with children, and others were quite mad that Money Tree has used their information. On May 21,2008 she contacted the Money Tree office to inform them she cancelled her agreement and wanted her money back as none of the leads were valid.
When her credit card bill arrived, it showed she had been charged $500. She contacted her credit card company and asked them to investigate. The documentation that the credit card company sent to her for verification was a copy of the agreement she signed EXCEPT the information about the service area had been whited-out and written over with zip codes in the San Jose area, and nothing about this specialized area of her expertise.
She is still battling her credit card company and has had them investigate four times, and they are not happy. She reported the "crime" to the Government Internet Crime Complaint Center on December 5,2008 and has not received any response. She contacted the TV news program "7 On Your Side" with no success. Michael Finney told her they couldn't get involved because it was a contract and suggested she call the Cal. Consumer Affairs office or her local district attorney's office.
She is still fighting the credit card charge. She has a number of letters from Money Tree which claim no wrong and the fee is non-refundable, no cancellation. Her contention is that they fraudulently altered the contract without her permission, making it void.
How many complaints have been filed with this group re the Money Tree scam? Are there other sources to contact for assistance? From my research, it seems like this scam went after realtors all over the country. It seems like Money Tree became Nationwide Financing, and my client has noted Nationwide on one of her calls. If this is as persavide as it seems, has any entity done anything about?
Any advice would be appreciated.