(1) To root out and correct inaccuracy in the online structured settlement space,

  • Poorly researched or lazy reporting by regional or national media about structured settlements [ see for example Structured Settlement Reporting Wall of Shame | South Florida edition] , or very poor content [see for example Structured Settlement Social Media "Road Kill"] produced by or for the under regulated  secondary market where it appears that anonymously registered websites spring up every day like dandelions, polluting the structured settlement information highway with content often written by unqualified individuals [who may in turn hire content writers with even less subject matter expertise, relevant professional credentials, or practical experience] that is uninformed.  Part of the problem is that the cost of pay per clicks on certain "structured settlement" keywords  is so high  (in excess of $300], that it attracts every Tom, Dick and Harry into the structured settlement space, qualified or not.   My central premise is that the  structured settlement consumer on either the primary or secondary side of the market, deserves the clearest path to accurate information about structured settlements.
  • There has been an irresponsible and misleading use of terms that misrepresent structured settlement payment rights as annuities, such as "secondary market annuities" when selling them to investors, including seniors and even personal injury victims. A secondary market annuity is not an annuity. Some of the companies hocking the structured settlement derivatives also make unauthorized use of life insurance company logos in an attempt to legitimize how they peddle their wares with the misleading label..
  • There has been an wholly misleading use of the term "structured settlement exchange" or "annuities exchange" to insinuate a transparent regulated market place, when investors may buy from brands within the same control group or there is a limited number of originators. Given that exchange otherwise means "to change something for something else of a similar value or type", that is clearly not an accurate term to describe the diminished value sellers receive when changing structured settlement payments at a steep discount, sometimes for pennies on the dollar.


(2) To highlight and encourage, potential informants and other commentators who expose, or help to expose, bad business practices with a goal to help improve the greater structured settlement industry. 

Practices such as:

  • Interstate Forum Shopping. Creating the illusion for filing purposes that the annuitant resides or is domiciled in a state of county that they don't to take advantage of lax judicial oversight or less stirict enforcement of structured settlement protection laws. including not requiring a personal appearance by the seller.  Such activity may be accompanied by the bribing of structured settlement annuitants to lie on structured settlement transfer petitions that they reside in a state that they don't.  On December 15 2014,  a complaint was filed by  Michael Lafontant against Washington Square Financial D/B/A Imperial Structured Settlements and Andrew Levine, in the United States District Court, Southern District of New York, allegations wherein detail a forum shopping nightmare involving a naive 19 year old New Yorker was induced by a Florida based company into multiple transactions within 6 months, somehow approved by Florida judges without meeting this young man, leaving him with nothing. Read the Lafontant complaint and my commentary here.  Ongoing publicity about the Lafontant case, the Terrence Taylor case and the alleged abuse of  Baltimore City lead paint victims has led to hastily passed reforms in Maryland, Florida and Virginia.
  • Sending real or imaginary checks to court scraped annuitants and then badgering people to cash then with the insinuation that it binds the annuitant to do business with them. It appears that most companies in the space scrape court records conceivably because they lower their acquisition costs.
  • Providing advances to court scraped annuitants with the later insinuation that it binds the annuitant to do business with them. See CFPB Complaint v Access Funding filed November 2016


(3) To establish and main higher standards for Independent Professional Advice (Structured Settlement IPA) under state structured settlement protection acts. A Rockville MD lawyer, Charles E. Smith Jr and his law firm CES Law Group LLC, were sued for legal malpractice in June 2015 with claims arising out of his alleged services in connection with a structured settlement transfer of someone with cognitive deficits that included the inability to read. Charles E Smith, JR is now a defendant, among others, in a lawsuit brought by the Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh as well as a class action lawsuit in Baltimore City on behalf of numerous lead paint victims who were allegedly exploited by Smith and other defendants. In November 2016, the Consumer Financial Protection Board filed suit against attorney Charles E. Smith and refers to Smith as a sham adviser as part of its crack down on Access Funding and its principals Lee Jundanian, Raffi Boghosian and others related to an alleged scam on Baltimore inner city lead paint victims with structured settlements.Recently Anuj Sud, a College Park MD attorney connected with many of the Access Funding deals, was busted for taking bribes while liquor commissioner in Prince Georges County MD.


(4) To seek resolution for structured settlement annuitants and help preserve the integrity of the industry by reporting instances where a structured settlement protection act's "best interest standard" has been inadequately enforced. A judge who may not have examined the seller in person is the only thing that stands between a vulnerable seller and financial oblivion.There has already been one success in 2014..There have been some true horror stories that must see the light of day.  An example of the kind of abuse I'm referring to is where someone with cognitive deficits has had multiple sell transactions approved in a year and has never appeared before  judge at any hearing before  a "qualified order" was obtained. Blistering Washington Post articles about the alleged exploitation of annuitants in Baltimore inner city at the hands of Access Funding inspired legislative and judicial reforms in Maryland. Similar loud pot banging raised awareness in other states such as Virginia, Florida and in the District of Columbia. There is still plenty of work to be done.



Structured Settlement Watchdog® John Darer's commentary  is informative, irreverent and effective. John Darer's watchdog commentary has been so effective, that for a period of time in 2012,  several secondary market bad actors, whose sordid business practices were being investigated,  registered multiple internet domains using John's name,  and posted fake complaints on complaint sites in May 2012 and December 2012 containing the most 'over the top" trolling in an unsuccessful effort to stifle our investigation.  The regulatory dichotomy  enables such behavior. Now into five years later,  my quest for the truth keeps marching on and the circumstances of several of the 2012 trolls took a turn for the worse. I choose to be open, others snipe from the comfort of anonymity.  Needless to say the stuff is not credible on its face. If it were true, I would not be in business.  I would not be able to hold an insurance or securities license. 


The real stats about Structured Settlement Watchdog® John Darer®...


In over 30 years in financial services:

  • AM Best Client Recommended Structured Settlement Expert 2017 (5th consecutive year)
  • The Company that John Darer® owns has been accredited A+ with Better Business Bureau, the highest rating,  for 12 consecutive years, with no complaints.  If we ever received a legitimate complaint, we are committed,as an accredited business, to make a good faith effort to resolve it.
  • No complaints with any state insurance department of the over 35 states I'm licensed in.
  • No complaints with any self regulatory organization
  • No lawsuits concerning professional services rendered
  • Not been subject of an "attorney general investigation".


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You Hate the Secondary Market , Don't You?

Can You Elaborate on the Focus of the Structured Settlement Watchdog?

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STRUCTURED SETTLEMENT WATCHDOG®


Isn't this a "Scorched Earth" Marketing Strategy?

Far from it. "Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman."  Louis Brandeis Supreme Court Judge  (1845-1941)

I'm just opening the window and letting the sunshine in. Primary market structured settlement participants have complained about the business practices of factoring companies, but few do anything about it except complain to each other and the National Structured Settlements Trade Association  (NSSTA).  I am a long standing member of NSSTA. This is not a criticism of other members, or the NSSTA,, but a statement made on the basis of more than a decade of observation. Many structured settlement secondary market participants routinely complain about the business conduct of people and companies in their industry. If there was a regulator of the structured settlement secondary market (which in my opinion there should be) they could complain to the regulator. Instead many complain to me.  I write primarily during my spare time.

No, I've always believed the secondary market has its place for people who need liquidity and cannot obtain it from any other source. My firm may be one of the only ones in the structured settlement primary market that has for years had a written policy statement on factoring, although now there is one settlement planning firm that has for almost two years openly advertised it sells structured settlement derivatives.. There are people who genuinely try to do the right thing. There are people that really care about the integrity of the industry. These are people with whom I have an open dialogue. But there has always been an unmistakable malodorous sleaze factor to the structured settlement secondary market as a  result of repeated acts that for years its leadership denied. It' s a shame that the industry forebearers  did not  agree to adequate regulation from the beginning, before people got hurt financially.