Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Scam Within a Scam...Within a Scam?

If you've ever read Shakespeare's famous play, A Midsummer Night's Dream, you probably know that it is famous (in part) because it features a play within a play. I'm knowledgeable enough about literature to know that fact. I, however, am not quite sophisticated enough to realize why it is particularly noteworthy.

Nevertheless, while I may be ignorant when it comes to the intricacies of the Bard's greatest works, over the past several months I've become quite adept at recognizing the shady tactics of our friends in the law school and higher education industrial complex.

First, there was Solo Practice University. For hundreds of dollars they promised to give solo practitioners (even those right out of law school) the tools they need to succeed. Of course, those tools consisted almost exclusively of a bunch of (non-state specific) videos for practicing different areas of the law. Like a set of videos for "Do-It-Yourself Surgery", such an approach to learning the law was a bit perfunctory, and the results were more likely than not destined to be rather messy.

Then our friends at Law Crossings started spamming the job boards, claiming they could help graduates find their first attorney positions regardless of whether the applicant's GPA was 2.0 or 4.0.

I watched a story on 60 Minutes the other night where a couple of psudeo-doctors convinced patients with a certain terminal ailment to pony up some big bucks in exchange for a nonexistent cure. You know what? I'll bet those "doctors" would be thoroughly disgusted by Law Crossings.

Seriously. What type of scum bag is willing to further rip off somebody who already is unemployable and under a mountain of debt? They'd honestly be less repugnant characters if they just took your money in exchange for a swift kick to the groin.

So now comes the latest in a long line of swindles. But this swindle actually has multiple layers. (Hence it being a "Scam within a Scam".)

I recently received an urgent piece of mail from some company called ECMC. Prior to reading this piece of mail, I had no idea who ECMC was. In fact, I'm still not 100% sure who they are except that the company guarantees federal loans. Apparently, however, this company was in possession of personal data related to me. It also seems that their crack security team allowed said personal data to be compromised.

Great. So let me get this straight. My law school and Sallie Mae conned me into going into massive debt for a worthless degree. Then for some reason they handed over my personal information to some other student lending company of some sort without telling me about it - though I'm sure it was buried in one of the 39 letters with 8-inch font they send me every week. Now, thanks to their bungling, another con artist has absconded with my sensitive, personal information.

It doesn't end there, though. Even though they insist that no "savings, checking, or credit card account numbers" were compromised (uh, what about SS numbers?) - which there's really no reason they should have in the first place - they're offering 12 free months of credit monitoring through another company.

Now call me cynical, but I can't help it at this point. If important data truly wasn't compromised, is this really necessary? If I sign up for this, how come I anticipate seeing myself being automatically re-enrolled at $59.99 a month once the free trial is over? Sorry, I don't have a lot of faith in a company that uses some doofus playing the guitar in a pirate-themed restaurant to advertise for its product. (Maybe that guy should go to law school - then he'd really have something to sing about!)

So in addition to all my other woes, I have to choose between trusting that recently released inmate #68934 isn't selling my personal data over the internet to some guy in Nigeria or risk spending eight hours on the phone in 12 months trying cancel my brand new credit alert contract.

Is paying that Law Crossings guy to kick me in the groin an option?

All the world's a stage filled with potential law students,
And all the men and women merely a source of revenue;
They have their savings and the ability to sign promissory notes,
And one man in his time can be conned many times,
His indebtedness being seven ages.

-As The Law School Industry Likes It


  1. This reminds me of the warranty scams, where you get a letter telling you your warranty is about to run out (whether or not you have any warranty on anything at all, I do not). ECMC probably paid Sallie to get your info and is lying about your need for [their partner's] credit monitoring services. Interesting that they would put the blame on themselves for losing your info though...

  2. This post is full of wrong regarding the ECMC situation.

    Go find Buddhism you whiny fuck.

  3. I would not worry about your information being stolen. I can't imagine most of us have much credit.

    One of the reasons I stopped doing pro bono is that my clients had more money than me anyway. A criminal generally isn't going to bother trying to steal something from somebody that has even less than them.

    We are all judgment proof. Sure it sucks, but worse comes to worst just title your car over to a family member or something. That vehicle is probably the only asset a law graduate has, and it's probably either cheap or your parents paid for most of it anyway.

  4. Contact all three credit bureaus (you can do it online) and put a freeze on your credit reports - nobody can access it but you once the freeze is on. It's free in NY

  5. A collaberative effort between Pat Hobbs, Dick Matasar and Tom Mengler, perhaps? JK. These "distinguished men" are too busy training the next generation of lawyers who will seek after justice, pursue truth and advocate for the less fortunate in our society, right?!

    Actually, wouldn't TTT grads qualify under that last category?

  6. Hey, 3:19. Thanks for taking the time to correct "the wrong" with this article. All the information I provided came directly from the letter they sent me.

    Thanks also for helping to demonstrate the intelligence of the average law school apologist and for the non sequitur.

  7. If the company is legit, they should be offering you free credit monitoring through one of the big three: Equifax, TransUnion or Experian.

    You shouldn't have to put in a credit card number when you sign up so no need to worry about them automatically charging your credit card at the end of the year.

  8. Did you see this from the Wall Street Journal (4/19/10)?


  9. Bwahaha, now the NYSBA is offering CLE for starting your own practice, and that huckster Elefant is giving away some shitty book that nobody probably bought "for free" with the CLE.

    Ridiculous. The NYSBA has sent me at least 10 messages telling me my membership is about to run out and I should renew, and has even called me telling me to renew. I pretty much told them to fuck off. The ABA is now pulling the same thing. None of these organizations are even the least bit useful, you only go to them if you're a practicing attorney and want to pretend you have friends, because god knows the average attorney is an asshole that nobody wants to hang out with.

  10. This sucks, Esq. never! Very scary stuff.

    But thank you for ripping on that huckster running Law Crossing!! He deserves to be taken down along with all his sham companies. Won't be long now until some of his worker trolls in India find this blog and start posting their rebuttals that go a little something like this:

    "i love lawcrossing actually very good job came from that one. thanks. to you lawcrossing for gives such a good employ. i have but already telling everyones i know to take lawcrossing very good job."

  11. I know I'm crazy for posting comments here, but I'm going to anyway.

    First, you don't have to attend the NYSBA event. That is fine. However, you are incorrect - I have sold a decent number of copies of Solo by Choice, as can be seen on Amazon. Obviously, it is not an Oprah book - if I sell 100 copies a month (which is my rough average), that's considered pretty good for this type of book. Also, I have sent out at least a dozen copies of the book at no charge to people who told me that they could not afford it - and I donate copies to bar associations so that people can take it out on loan. Yes, I like to sell books, but if it's too expensive, then I have no problem with people finding it somewhere for free.

    At the same time, while you say that I am a huckster, I should add that I spent two years writing Solo by Choice. I had never written a book before and it was hard to do. What I get in royalties probably amounts to $10 an hour for the time I spent - less than contract law wages. I wrote early in the morning, I wrote on weekends, I wrote whenever I could while I ran my practice, which is why it took so long. And even so, the book is far from perfect (it has many typos), but you know what? You are free to take two years of your life to write a book yourself. And I would most definitely buy it, and probably even learn something from it.

  12. "Seriously. What type of scum bag is willing to further rip off somebody who already is unemployable and under a mountain of debt? "

    This is classic predatory conduct. In nature, predator species do not attack strong, vibrant prey; it's too difficult. Instead, they focus on the weak, the sick, the young, or those who are already injured. It's easier and a much more efficient use of energy than to waste one's time chasing healthy, vibrant potential prey.

    Get it? We're not talking about the charity of the human soul here...

  13. 10:32 - So I guess we can give the law schools some credit for the boldness to go after the ambitious and the academically curious.

  14. Hope you don't mind me posting your witty parody, "As The Law School Industry Likes It," of William Shakespeare's famous quote from MacBeth on my blog and pointing back to your blog.

  15. Error on my part. Your parody is of Shakespeare's "As You Like It."

  16. I too have gotten the letter from ECMC. I have done some research and here is what I have found. ECMC was founded in 1994, they are suppose to have bought data from Sallie Mae (formed 28 years ago or 1982). I have never had a student loan connected to ECMC (my last loan was in 1971 and paid off early, didn't have anything to do with Sallie Mae either). So how could my data have been stolen? Plus the letter was sent to my current address as I have moved more than 4 times since then. I haven't applied for any credit in almost 20 years. When I went to check out the "free" credit protection, they wanted my personal information like SSN. I would like to see the agreement between ECMC and Experian to see what info is exchanged. Remember ECMC is paying for the protection so they are in my view the client and are entitled to view the data. My letter was sent to me by Experian not ECMC. Hmmmm


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