Clients often hire our personal injury law firm to rectify an unjust situation, with the result being a large monetary recovery. However, justice can come in all different sizes. Recently, we took a case pro bono (at no charge) for an elementary school teacher who received a letter that caused her suspicion. The letter she received claimed that this particular company could help her receive a $331 refund to which she was entitled. The company suggested that they located the school teacher because a particular well known insurance company was unable to find her and pay her a homeowner's insurance refund. But curiously, the school teacher had lived in the same residence for 20 plus years. Finally, the company told her that an escrow account had been set up and if she contacted this particular company and signed an agreement to give them 20% of the money, they would help her recover the $331.
First we sent a letter trying to clarify whether this particular company was actually a law firm (as it looked on their letterhead). They responded that they were not a law firm and that their purpose was to locate money owed to various people and return the money to the proper parties. We responded by asking them to produce to us any efforts this known insurance company made to locate our school teacher client, since she literally had lived in the same residence for more than 20 years. We asked them to produce to us the name of the insurance adjuster, the claim number, and even a calculation as to the interest, so we could check to make sure they were properly calculating the money owed to our client. This company responded with a letter stating that the escrow account was not in their control. We then sent one more letter telling them if they did not produce to us the appropriate documentation and information to allow us to recover the money directly without paying them a "finder's fee," we would bring a claim against them in Colorado for conversion. Earlier this month, we received a final letter responding to our letter from this company confirming that our client could recover her money by simply contacting the State of Colorado Unclaimed Property Department. They provided us a phone number and the proper ID number. In essence, the company gave up when they knew we were "on to them."
A company asking for a finder's fee for something to which you are entitled by law is a scam. The very reason why this disreputable company didn't continue to maintain their position in this case was because they knew they were up against a law firm who could protect their client's rights. Unfortunately, a great number of people who get these letters never recognize the scam until it's too late. Specifically, once you have signed an agreement saying that you are authorizing this company to take a finder's fee, they have you hooked. Later, your own signed agreement ends up being the basis by which they can make collection efforts against you. They never had a right to seek a fee, but they confused you and made you think you somehow had to go through them to get your money. In actuality, they have nothing to do with the money. They have simply printed a public records list of names and then acted as if they are somehow connected with the people (or in this case, the state fund) holding the money.
We fear thousands of Colorado consumers may have been taken advantage of by this and other disreputable companies, in similar scams. We are happy that we had an opportunity to assist a school teacher in not being a victim of fraud and we are proud that we helped recover her $331 without paying a needless finder's fee.
At Anderson Hemmat, while we are known for having obtained large verdicts for clients over the years, we also have helped numerous clients obtain justice even when the amount of money is less substantial. Even when the dollar stakes are not high, getting justice can make all the difference for a particular client.
See if you have unclaimed funds at the Great Colorado Giveback Site: http://www.colorado.gov/treasury/gcp/
Another great resource: http://kdvr.com/2015/02/13/how-to-find-out-if-someone-owes-you-money/