Isn't Being a Watchdog Just a "Scorched Earth" Marketing Strategy?

No, far from it.  Consider the words of Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis Supreme Court Judge  (1845-1941): "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."  

Open 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 competitors and a number of opined that the secondary market is in a race to the bottom.


In 2018 DRB Capital, LLC, a Delray Beach company backed by The Blackstone Group which is active in the structured settlement secondary market, issued multiple press releases about its $100,000 bounty fund in which extensive details of alleged bad business practices in the structured settlement secondary market are revealed. 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.

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You Hate the Secondary Market , Don't You?

STRUCTURED SETTLEMENT WATCHDOG®


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The structured settlement secondary market has its place for people who need liquidity and cannot obtain it from any other source. Unfortunately the lack of regulation of participants and their sales practices have turned that industry segment into a circus. Therefore it's necessary to continue to expose the bad business practices so that consumers, attorneys general, law enforcement and the media are kept informed.


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 structured settlement factoring, although now there is one settlement planning firm that has for almost years openly advertised it sells structured settlement derivatives. In 2018, a Buffalo, NY based primary market firm wrote to a secondary market participant that it was the only primary market as well as secondary market originator that he knew of.  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 forebears  did not  agree to adequate regulation from the beginning, before people got hurt financially. 

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 and have been exposed, registered multiple internet domains using John's name  (tied to Mt Airy MD resident David Springer according to a September 14  2012 legal filing in the United States District Court in Connecticut),  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 investigations. Individuals from the "Cauldrons of Deceit" in Maryland and Florida like David Springer of Mt, Airy Maryland, and Owings Mills Maryland native Richart Ruddie, have the motivation to engage in such cowardly behavior.


In January 2018. Several of Richart Ruddie's associated companies were banned in Maryland for 7 years after a Maryland Attorney General investigation. Ruddie had to plea bargain with the Rhode Island United States attorney for mercy (after Ruddie, in the name of  "reputation management", was caught in a fraud on the court) have motivation to engage in such cowardly behavior).


My piecing together all of David Springer's phony characters in social media led to "them" being summoned for deposition in a lawsuit (where I was later called as a trial witness), leading the cornered David Springer to have to admit all of these supposed employees that were held out to the public were in fact Springer himself. In the end David Springer was found liable, the judge excoriated Springer's business practice and awarded monetary damages to the Plaintiff. Springer filed bankruptcy shortly thereafter. I've also exposed major inconsistencies in his everchanging LinkedIn profiles. 


I choose to be open and discuss real issues, while others chose to snipe falsehoods from the comfort of anonymity and make cowardly ad hominem attacks  revealing their obsession about my weight, my marital status, their uncertainty about my sexual orientation as if it were relevant, instead of proposing solutions to legitimate issues to consumers that I've raised. Some people use my trademarked name to cover their identifies on those sites. Eventually the criminal imposters will get their due.


The Rip Off Reports, Pissed Consumer or Complaint Board aren't credible on their face. If they 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 35 years in financial services:

  • AM Best Client Recommended Structured Settlement Expert 2019 (7th consecutive year)
  • The Company that John Darer® owns has been accredited A+ with Better Business Bureau, the highest rating, for over 14 consecutive years, with no complaints.  If it ever received a legitimate complaint, it is committed,as an accredited business, to make a good faith effort to resolve it.
  • Earned and maintain six active professional certifications and/or designations.
  • 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"  
  • For 14 years, as Structured Settlement Watchdog, John Darer has donated hundreds of hours of time for pro bono work to assist annuitants and investors who have been given a bum deal by partipcants the structured settlement secondary or tertiary markets and further the mission stated on the home page.. 





(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 found on highly unreliable websites such as Annuity.org and Structuredsettlements.com, FundFirst Capital, Structuredsettlement.us.com, Statelocalgov.net, bogus paid review sites that seem to claim a new leader in the "Top Ten" depending on which way the wind is blowing (or the bucks are flowing), or other very poor content [see for example Structured Settlement Social Media "Road Kill"] or those of the type listed on Structuredsettlementspam.com, 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.  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.
  • Merchants, unfortunately including some settlement planners,  have made an irresponsible and wholly 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. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners in its Statutory Issue Paper No.160, opined that factored structured settlement payments streams are neither annuities or insurance products. 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  led to hastily passed reforms in Maryland, Florida and Virginia.  In August 2018,  DRB Capital DRB Capital LLC established a private whistle blower fund, to reward individuals who come forward with information proving violations of various laws in
    connection with the business of purchasing structured settlement payment rights, including violations of the tax code, violations of state structured settlement protection acts, improper forum shopping, violations of federal deceptive and unfair trade practices acts, and federal excise tax evasion.

  • 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.
  • Sending missives from real sounding by really fake government agencies like the "National Structured Settlement Registry", Settlement Union",  " Annuity Verification". " Audit Department" and such, that are really phishing schemes designed to get annuitants to part with personally identifiable information.
  • 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. Rockville MD lawyer, Charles E. Smith Jr and his law firm CES Law Group LLC, are an example of what not to do. Smith and his firm were sued for legal malpractice in June 2015 with claims arising out of his alleged IPA services in connection with a structured settlement transfer of someone with cognitive deficits that included the inability to read. Charles E Smith, Jr was 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.  Read my November 2018 article about how Attorney Charles E. Smith Jr. shafted more than a dozen Allstate structured settlement annuitants, including the late Freddie Gray and his sisters by approving deals with discount rates well in excess of Allstate's AFEN discount rate of 8% were in the annuitant's best interest


 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 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.