Go Beyond Collection Agency: Industry Innovator

 

It is not every day that I receive an invitation from the owner of a collection agency to meet him and tour his premises.  Therefore, I was surprised when earlier this year Greg Maitinsky, CEO of Hamilton, Ontario-based Go Beyond Collection Agency, did just that.

 

Not your typical collection agency or leadership team

I had the opportunity to spend several hours with both company CEO Greg Maitinsky and the firm’s Director of Sales, Clinton Kruger.  What struck me was how strange it was that these two individuals ever found themselves working in the collection industry in the first place.

Greg Maitinsky was born and raised in Hungary, the son of Hungarian diplomats.  He has a diploma in economics from the Western University of Hungary, formerly the Karl Marx School of Economics.  Greg first became involved in the collection industry several years ago–as an entrepreneur–without prior experience in the collection industry.  He believes in transparency and treating everyone with respect–including not only the firm’s clients, but also his staff, and the people the agency is collecting monies from.

Clinton Kruger was born in South Africa and emigrated to Canada when he was 11 years old.  In his late teens Clinton did Christian missionary work in several countries including Ukraine, Thailand, and China.  He worked in sales in Canada for nine years prior to accepting a sales position at Go Beyond Collection Agency.  Clinton never worked a day in his life at a collection agency prior to joining the agency.

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Having spent 12 years working on the premises of some of the largest collection agencies in Canada I have a preconceived idea as to what to expect on a collection floor.  Typically, collectors sit, row on row, in small workstations, like chickens on a tractor trailer.  Not at Go Beyond Collection Agency.  Staff members sit at a real desk, the lighting is subdued, and different kinds of plants can be found throughout.  The atmosphere is homey.

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Go Beyond Collection Agency appears to be an attractive place to work.  The collection floor has a comfortable feel to it, the firm offers flexible hours, and encourages the career aspirations of its employees.  Collectors work at real desks and not at cramped sterile workstations.  At the front of the room company CEO Greg Maitinsky (left) can be seen next to Director of Sales, Clinton Kruger (right).

 

 

Agency focuses on collecting delinquent accounts from residential tenants

Most of Go Beyond Collection Agency’s activities involve collecting monies owed by residential tenants living in Ontario.  Its major clients include residential landlords, property management firms and REITs in the residential tenancy marketplace.

 

An innovator in the collection industry

In a variety of ways Go Beyond Collection Agency is an innovator in the collection industry.

1.      Firm routinely posts the compensation of every staff member

Each payday Go Beyond Collection Agency posts the compensation received by every staff member including the company CEO.

 

2.       Firm offers flexible hours to its staff

Go Beyond Collection Agency offers flexible working hours to all of its staff.  Recently the firm dispensed with the requirement of a doctor’s note where a staff member misses a day’s work.  Employees at the firm describe flexible working hours as one of the major attractions working there.

 

3.        Firm supports career aspirations of its staff

In addition to formal training which is work-related, Go Beyond Collection Agency supports the career aspirations of its staff.  Every three months CEO Greg Maitinsky meets individually with staff members to review their career aspirations.  This often results in the firm contributing monies to a staff member’s career development.

 

4.         Firm offers support to consumers struggling with debt

Go Beyond Collection Agency has a track record of attempting to assist consumers struggling with debt.  When Greg Maitinsky learns that a consumer can’t pay an account because not presently working Greg has been known to offer to circulate the consumer’s resume to his contacts in the business community.  In one instance a consumer was offered a job the same day he supplied Greg with a copy of his resume.  At the present time Greg is working on a project enlisting the support of HR firms to assist consumers with delinquent accounts obtain work.

 

Go Beyond Collection Agency Inc., www.gobeyondcollect.com, is not your typical collection agency.  This is reflected in the way it treats not only its staff, its clients, but also the consumers it collects monies from.

Is Strategic Credit Solutions offering debt settlement services across Canada illegally?

I recently received a tip about a Newmarket, Ontario-based debt settlement firm called Strategic Credit Solutions.  It would appear that this firm–which focuses on paying mortgage brokers for referrals–is offering debt settlement services not only in Ontario but also across Canada. I was given a copy of an e-mail dated February 23, 2016, describing the firm’s services as well as a very professional looking 4-panel digital brochure.

 

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In this e-mail dated February 23, 2016, Ms. Amanda Potts, Regional Business Coordinator for Strategic Credit Solutions, discloses that the firm works with a lawyer to provide debt settlement services.  Nowhere in this e-mail or the attached marketing brochure is the name of the participating lawyer mentioned.

 

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In February of this year a Newmarket, Ontario- based firm, Strategic Credit Solutions, has been using this 4-panel brochure to market the firm’s debt settlement services to mortgage brokers.

 

 

Are the activities of Strategic Credit Solutions subject to the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act?

Debt settlement services is defined in subsection 1(1) of the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act as follows:

“debt settlement services” means offering or undertaking to act for a debtor in arrangements or negotiations with the debtor’s creditors or receiving money from a debtor for distribution to the debtor’s creditors, where the services are provided in consideration of a fee, commission or other remuneration that is payable by the debtor.

Based upon the contents of Ms. Potts’ e-mail dated February 23, 2016, the 4-panel marketing brochure, as well as the language contained in Strategic Credit Solutions’s website, www.scredit.ca, it would appear clear that the activities of Strategic Credit Solutions fall within the definition of “debt settlement services” as defined in subsection 1(1) of the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act.  The definition of “debt settlement services” includes “offering” debt settlement services.

 

Is Strategic Credit Solutions licensed to provide debt settlement services to Ontario residents under Ontario law?

Given the fact that Strategic Credit Solutions’ business model would appear to fall clearly within the definition of “debt settlement services” in the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Servics Act the first question one might ask is whether or not the firm possesses the appropriate license to “offer” debt settlement services to Ontario residents?

Any firm offering debt settlement services to Ontario residents must possess an Ontario collection agency license pursuant to the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act unless it is exempt from the Act.  Anyone visiting the homepage on Strategic Credit Solutions’ website, www.scredit.ca, could be excused for believing that the firm is licensed to provide debt settlement services in Ontario.

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The website for Strategic Credit Solutions, www.scredit.ca, would certainly suggest that this Newmarket, Ontario-based debt settlement service provider is licensed by the Ontario government to provide debt settlement services.  This is a screenshot of the homepage for www.scredit.ca, captured on February 26, 2016.

 

SCS is a Government licensed debt company that reduces consumers debt without filing consumer proposal or credit counselling.

This sentence is the first sentence which appears on the homepage for Strategic Credit Solutions’ website, www.scredit.ca

But is this statement true?

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Ms. Stephanie Lawrence is the Ontario civil servant responsible for processing license registrations and renewals under the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act.  In this e-mail dated February 24, 2016, sent to me she confirms that Strategic Credit Solutions is not registered as a collection agency in Ontario.

 

Is Strategic Credit Solutions exempt from the requirement of being registered as a collection agency under Ontario law?

The Ontario Collection Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act does contain a number of exemptions in subsection 2(1) of the Act.  I am, however, not aware of any information that would suggest that, given Strategic Credit Solutions’ business model, the firm is exempt from the Act.

 

Strategic Credit Solutions would appear to be operating as an unlicensed debt settlement firm in Ontario

The activities of Newmarket, Ontario-based Strategic Credit Solutions would appear to be clearly within the definition of “debt settlement services” as defined in the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act.  Furthermore, it would appear that Strategic Credit Solutions is not “registered” or licensed as a collection agency under the Act.  Finally, there is no evidence to suggest that Strategic Credit Solutions falls within an exemption under the Act.

Is Strategic Credit Solutions operating as an unlicensed debt settlement firm across Canada?

On Friday, February 26, 2016, I phoned Ms. Amanda Potts, Regional Business Coordinator, Strategic Credit Solutions.  During this telephone conversation I asked a number of questions in order to learn more details regarding the firm’s business model.  When I asked her in which provinces the firm operated she informed me that Strategic Credit Solutions’ services were available across Canada.

It would appear that Strategic Credit Solutions is operating illegally as an unregistered debt settlement service provider in Ontario.  What I have yet to determine is whether or not Strategic Credit Solutions is operating illegally as a debt settlement service provider in any provinces in addition to Ontario.  Accordingly, I anticipate that over the next week or so I will be contacting senior civil servants outside Ontario asking them to satisfy themselves whether or not Strategic Credit Solutions is offering debt settlement services contrary to the law in their province.

 

Toronto lawyer Colina King working with Strategic Credit Solutions?

When I asked Ms. Potts how many lawyers were participating in providing debt settlement services in conjunction with Strategic Credit Solutions she informed me it was just one lawyer.  The lawyer Ms. Potts named during this telephone call was Toronto lawyer Colina King.  On Friday, February 26, 2016, I spoke with Ms. Colina King on the phone.  During this phone call I identified myself, I advised her that Ms. Potts had identified her as the lawyer providing debt settlement services in conjunction with Strategic Credit Solutions.  I informed her that I would be publishing a post concerning Strategic Credit Solutions’ business model and I asked her if she cared to make any comments.  Ms. King told me she was busy and she was unable to speak with me.

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In a telephone conversation on February 25, 2016, Ms. Amanda Potts, Regional Business Coordinator, Strategic Credit Solutions, identified Toronto lawyer Colina King as the lawyer providing debt settlement services in conjunction with Strategic Credit Solutions.

 

The LinkedIn Profile for lawyer Colina King does not make any reference to Strategic Debt Solutions nor to debt settlement services.

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This is a screenshot of Ms. Colina King’s LinkedIn Profile–captured on February 28, 2016.  Nowhere in her LinkedIn Profile does Ms. King make any reference to Strategic Credit Solutions nor debt settlement services.

 

Hamfisted attempt to avoid draconian limitations on fees imposed by provincial regulators?

Over the past couple of years provincial governments across Canada have been enacting laws intended to protect consumers from abusive practices by some debt settlement service providers.  In many provinces these reforms included the introduction of draconian limitations on the fees charged by debt settlement service providers.  This has motivated a number of traditional debt settlement service providers to attempt–with varying degrees of success to reinvent themselves–but in circumstances where they could avoid the severe restrictions on fees which they could charge their clients.

The most common tactic for a traditional debt settlement service provider to avoid the new draconican restrictions on fees is to have the consumer enter into a contract for debt settlement services with a lawyer–and not the traditional debt settlement firm–in an attempt to be exempt from the Act.  The problem facing those attempting to successfully use this tactic is the narrow scope of the “lawyer’s exemption” contained in subsection 2(1) of the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act, which reads as follows:

This Act does not apply to a barrister or solicitor in the regular practice of his or her profession or to his or her employees.

I would suggest that the current business model used by Strategic Credit Solutions is a hamfisted attempt to avoid the draconian limitations on fees imposed by provincial regulators.

 

Solicited comments from Josh Balner, Amanda Potts and Colina King prior to publication of this post

Prior to publishing this post I spoke to two representatives of Strategic Credit Solutions, Amanda Potts, Regional Business Cooridinator, and the firm’s Founder, Josh Balner.  I also had a brief telephone conversation with Toronto lawyer Colina King.  I also sent a draft of this post–via e-mail–to these three individuals before 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, February 28, 2016, requesting their comments on the post.  They did not respond to my invitation to comment on this post.

 

Contact me if you have entered into a debt settlement agreement with Strategic Credit Solutions or any lawyer associated with that firm

I would invite anyone who has entered into a debt settlement agreement with Strategic Credit Solutions or any lawyer associated with the firm to contact me.  You are welcome to call me at (519) 827-5513.  Alternatively, you can e-mail me at markasilverthorn@gmail.com.

 

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I would invite anyone who has entered into a contract for debt settlement services with either Strategic Credit Solutions or any lawyer associated with that firm to contact me.

 

 

 

 

Should Law Society be concerned about marketing on behalf of Ontario Debt Law?

 

Sometime in July of 2015 a new player entered the debt settlement marketplace in Ontario, Ontario Debt Law.  The first two sentences of a marketing letter on Ontario Debt Law letterhead, dated August 12, 2015, reads as follows:

 

Ontario Debt Law (ODL) is a Canadian law firm that is owned and operated by Angelo Serafini, J.D.  Angelo has been practising law for over 30 years and is currently a Deputy Judge.

 

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This document–together with several other pages–were sent to a prospective client of Ontario Debt Law in August of 2015.  In August of 2015 Ontario Debt Law held itself out to the public as operating from 188 Wilkinson Road, Brampton, Ontario, the same building where OCCA is located. 

 

The only services performed by Ontario Debt Law appear to be “debt settlement services” as defined in subsection 1(1) of the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act.  In late 2015 a mystery shopper contacted Ontario Debt Law and made arrangements to meet in person with representatives from the firm.

 

Statements made to a mystery shopper in late 2015

Sometime in late November or early December a mystery shopper attended in person at 188 Wilkinson Road in Brampton, Ontario, home to Ontario Consumer Credit Assistance (OCCA), one of the largest debt settlement service providers in Canada over the past decade.  During this meeting two individuals–one female and one male–encouraged the mystery shopper to become a client of Ontario Debt Law.

In this 1:00 video clip the person meeting with a mystery shopper describes herself as “just the greeter”.

 

In this 2:37 clip the female representative identifies herself as an employee of OCCA.  She explains the various tasks performed by OCCA, Angelo Serafini, and Ontario Debt Law.

 

 

In this 1:22 video clip a male representative explains how OCCA and Debt Helpers–a marketing firm– work under the umbrella of Ontario Debt Law.

 

 

The mystery shopper advises the female representative that she is three months in arrears making payments on her Rogers bill.  The representative advises her that if she becomes a client of Ontario Debt Law then the law firm can stop collection calls on her Rogers bill.  In fact this statement is not entirely accurate.  With respect to non-bank debt, a lawyer can take certain actions to stop collection calls from a creditor’s collection agents, collection agencies or law firms.  A lawyer who is representing a debtor, however, cannot stop collection calls from the original creditor.

In this 1:12 video clip a female representative working at OCCA’s premises in Brampton, Ontario–who describes herself as an OCCA employee–misrepresents Ontario Debt Law’s ability to stop collection calls on the mystery shopper’s outstanding Rogers bill.

 

The mystery shopper spoke to a second representative from Ontario Debt Law who made a number of troubling statements on a variety of subjects including the merits of making a consumer proposal, the impact of an informal proposal on a consumer’s credit report, and the legal consequences of the expiry of Ontario’s 2-year statute of limitations.

The Law Society may have some concerns about some of the statements made by the male representative–captured on this 2:03 video clip–to a mystery shopper seeking information about Ontario Debt Law in late 2015.

 

This representative misrepresents the legal consequences of the expiry of Ontario’s 2-year statute of limitations.  He also made the bizarre statement that “a consumer proposal is an expensive bankruptcy”.

 

Angelo Serafini is responsible for statements made by those marketing the services offered by Ontario Debt Law

A lawyer is responsible for the actions of anyone marketing his firm’s services to the public.  Therefore, lawyer Angelo Serafini is responsible for statements made by those marketing the services offered by Ontario Debt Law regardless of who employs the individuals responsible for these representations.

 

Contact me if you are a client of Ontario Debt Law

I would invite anyone who has become a client of Ontario Debt Law since July 1st of 2015 to contact me.  You are welcome to call me at 1 (866) 996-9941 or at (519) 827-5513.  Alternatively, you can send me an e-mail at markasilverthorn@gmail.com.

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You are welcome to contact me if you are a client of Ontario Debt Law.

 

 

 

 

 

Are debt settlement clients of Ontario Debt Law entitled to a one hundred percent refund?

 

Very few Canadians will have ever heard of a debt settlement law firm by the name of Ontario Debt Law.  This debt settlement firm began carrying on business sometime around July of 2015.  I have yet to be able to identify a single employee of this firm.  It would appear that most of the tasks performed for Ontario Debt Law’s clients are done by employees of Ontario Consumer Credit Assistance Inc. (OCCA).

 

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Most of the tasks performed on behalf of Ontario Debt Law’s clients are carried out by employees of Ontario Consumer Credit Assistance Inc. (OCCA) at its office located at 188 Wilkinson Road in Brampton, Ontario.  This location is about 40 kilometers from the address listed for Ontario Debt Law on the firm’s website, www.ontariodebtlaw.ca, 447 Speers Road, Oakville, Ontario.

 

The other day someone asked me if a client of Ontario Debt Law, which would appear to provide no services other than “debt settlement services” as defined under the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act, would be entitled to a one hundred percent refund of fees paid to the firm.  After researching this issue, in my opinion anyone who has become a debt settlement client of Ontario Debt Law since July 1, 2015, might be entitled to a hundred percent refund of fees paid to the firm.

A majority of Ontario Debt Law’s clients might be unaware that the contract that they have entered into with Ontario Debt Law is a debt settlement services agreement because Ontario Debt Law calls its debt settlement services agreement a Membership Agreement.  Some of Ontario Debt Law’s clients might also be under the impression that they are actually clients of OCCA because employees of OCCA would appear to perform the lion’s share of tasks associated with their debt settlements services agreement.

 

Ontario Debt Law’s nightmare scenario

If an Ontario judge, or the Ontario Government, were to take the position that Ontario Debt Law is not entitled to the “lawyer’s exemption” contained in paragraph 2(1)(a) of the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act then Ontario Debt Law might find itself in for some significant difficulties.

 

Are you an Ontario Debt Law client who would like a full refund of fees paid to the firm?

Here is some food for thought for Ontario Debt Law’s clients and former clients. If you are interested in a refund of 100 percent of fees paid to Ontario Debt Law then you might want to consider sending them a written notice advising them that not only are you cancelling your debt settlement services agreement within one year of the date of the agreement but also you are demanding a refund of 100 percent of all fees paid to the firm.

In the event that Ontario Debt Law were to decline to provide you with a full refund within 15 days of receipt of your written notice of both cancellation and demand for a full refund then you do have a remedy available to you.  You can sue Ontario Debt Law pursuant to sections 16.10(1) and (2) of the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act seeking an order awarding you repayment of your fees.  If your lawsuit were successful, in addition to awarding you repayment of your fees, and court costs, the trial judge has a statutory discretion to award you exemplary and punitive damages.

You might be saying to yourself that your cannot afford to sue a law firm to recover your fees.  I have news for you!  I can think of one or two dozen firms whom would be quite happy to pay all your legal expenses if you decided to sue Ontario Debt Law to recover fees paid to the law firm.  This group would include some collection agencies, some bankruptcy trustees, and potentially some credit counselling agencies.

 

Background information

On July 1, 2015, a new regulatory regime came into effect in Ontario that had a dramatic impact upon the entire debt settlement industry.  Beginning July 1, 2015, the Ontario Government imposed significant restrictions on the amount of fees that a debt settlement services provider could charge.  Firstly, a debt settlement provider could not charge a penny in fees until such time that a settlement actually took place.  Secondly, the amount of these fees was capped, not to exceed ten percent of the amount of the debt when the debt settlement services agreement was signed.

An example will help illustrate the new fee structure in place in Ontario as of July 1, 2015. If an Ontario resident signed a debt settlement agreement on July 2, 2015, and he had one outstanding credit card on which they owed $10,000.00 then the maximum fee which the debt settlement firm could charge its client would be $1,000.00, or ten percent of $10,000.00, the amount of debt on the date the debt settlement services agreement was signed.

These new restrictions on fees, together with a number of other onerous requirements on debt settlement service provider, encouraged many firms to leave the industry or reinvent themselves.  A substantial number of debt settlement firms ceased operating in Ontario because of the new regulatory regime.  A few debt settlement firms sought to avoid the new regulatory regime altogether–including its restrictive fee structure–by offering their services through a lawyer practising law in Ontario.

If you would like more background information about Ontario Debt Law and its Siamese-twin relationship with OCCA then you are welcome to read one of my earlier blog posts, dated August 16, 2015, and September 28, 2015 or my article appearing in the print edition of the Law Times on September 21, 2015.

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On September 21, 2015, the Law Times, a weekly newspaper for Ontario’s lawyer, carried a story I wrote titled “Speaker’s Corner:  Questions raised about deputy judge’s debt settlement activity.

 

What are the consequences if Ontario Debt Law were not able to bring itself within the “lawyer’s exemption” in the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act?

As mentioned earlier, Ontario regulates firms providing debt settlement services to Ontario residents.  The relevant law is the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act.  Any firm that provides debt settlement services to Ontario residents must be the holder of a valid Ontario collection agency license–except where it is exempt from this licensing requirement under subsection 2(1) of the Act.

The term “collection agency” is defined in subsection 1(1) of the Act as follows:

“collection agency” means

(a)    a person, other than a collector, who obtains or arranges for payment of money owing to another person or who holds himself out to the public as providing such a service,

(b)   any person who sells or offers to sell forms or letters represented to be a collection system or scheme, or

(c)   a person, other than a collector, who provides debt settlement services

 

If a judge in a civil lawsuit or the Ontario Registar of Collection Agencies–the senior civil servant responsible for enforcing the Act–were to take the position that Ontario Debt Law does not fall within the “lawyer’s exemption” in paragraph 2(1)(a) of the Act then Ontario Debt Law would be required to possess an Ontario collection agency license.

Such a finding would affect the viability of Ontario Debt Law’s current business model because the firm would face the prospect of all of its clients seeking a one hundred percent refund of their fees paid pursuant to their debt settlement services agreements.

If Ontario Debt Law cannot bring itself within the “lawyer’s exemption” then it is not entitled to charge a penny in fees to anyone entering into a contract for debt settlement services after June 30, 2015.  Paragraph 16.6(2) of the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Servies Act reads as follows:

A collection agency or collector that enters into a debt settlement services agreement before being registered shall not be entitled to receive any payment or security for payment under subsection (1) for debt settlement services provided under the agreement.

 

Why might Ontario Debt Law not fall within the “lawyer’s exemption” contained in paragraph 2(1)(1) of the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act?

There are three distinct grounds upon which either a trial judge or the Ontario Registrar of Collection Agencies might base a decision that Ontario Debt Law does not fall within the “lawyer’s exemption” in the Act.

1       Mr. Serafini not providing services in the regular practice of his profession

Angelo Serafini’s law office is located in Oakville.  Mr. Serafini’s website for his Oakville law practice is www.serafinilaw.ca.  Nowhere on this website is there any reference to Ontario Debt Law–which according to e-mails sent out on behalf of Ontario Debt Law–is a law firm owned and operated by Angelo Serafini.  This website lists various practice areas–real estate, wills and estates, and business law.  There is no reference whatsoever on this website that would suggest that Angelo Serafini’s Oakville-based law firm offers debt settlement services.

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On the ABOUT US webpage on www.serafini.law, Mr. Serafini’s bio does not contain any reference whatsoever to Ontario Debt Law.

 

Angelo Serafini makes no reference to Ontario Debt Law on his LinkedIn Profile.

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Oakville Lawyer Angelo Serafini makes no reference whatsoever to Ontario Debt Law, a law firm he owns and operates, on his LinkedIn Profile.

 

In the second paragraph on one of the pages of Ontario Debt Law’s debt settlement services agreement–a document titled Membership Agreement–it states that any of Ontario Debt Law’s obligations under the contract can be performed by OCCA.

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This clause found in Ontario Debt Law’s (ODL) debt settlement services agreement would appear to permit Ontario Debt Law to assign all of its contractual obligations pursuant to this agreement to Ontario Consumer Credit Assistance Inc. (OCCA), a firm whose Brampton office is located 40 kilometers from Angelo Serafini’s Oakville office.  Coloured highlights have been added.

 

OCCA’s Brampton office is located 40 kilometers from Mr. Serafini’s Oakville office.  To the best of my knowledge, there are no employees of Mr. Serafini’s Oakville-based law practice or Ontario Debt Law working at OCCA’s Brampton office.  Some people might ask what tasks–if any–are Mr. Serafini and his employees performing in connection with Ontario Debt Law’s debt settlement service agreements?

Is Ontario Debt Law providing services in the regular course of Mr. Serafini’s practice of law?

 

2      Amount of work performed by Angelo Serafini or “his employees”

The “lawyer’s exemption” in paragraph 2(1)(a) of the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act reads as follows:

This Act does not apply to

(a)   a barrister and solicitor in ther regular practice of his profession or to his or her employees

Some people might ask what work, if any, pursuant to the debt settlement services agreements entered into by Ontario Debt Law, is being performed by either Angelo Serafini or “his employees”.

I obtained a better sense of the division of labour between Brampton-based Ontario Consumer Credit Assistance Inc. (OCCA) and Angelo Serafini and “his employees” after watching some video footage taken recently by a mystery shopper that visited OCCA’s Brampton office posing as an individual interested in becoming a client of Ontario Debt Law.

 

In December of 2015 a mystery shopper visited OCCA’s Brampton office at which time she sought clarification about the relationship between OCCA and Ontario Debt Law.

 

3      Disqualified because of the Act’s anti-avoidance provision?

Section 2.1 of the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act contains an anti-avoidance provision which reads as follows:

In determining whether this Act applies to an entity or transaction, a court or Tribunal shall consider the real substance of the entity or transaction and in so doing disregard the outward form.

A trial judge might decide that Ontario Debt Law was created for the sole purpose of permitting Ontario Consumer Credit Assistance Inc. (OCCA) to avoid being licensed under the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act and make a ruling that Ontario Debt Law is not exempt from the Act pursuant to paragraph 2(1)(a).

 

Contact Mark Silverthorn if you are a former or existing client of Ontario Debt Law

You are welcome to contact me if you are a current or former client of Ontario Debt Law.  You can call me at (519) 827-5513 or send me an e-mail at markasilverthorn@gmail.com.

 

Sample Cancellation/Demand for Refund letter

The letter which appears below can be used by anyone seeking a refund from a debt settlement firm in circumstances where (1) the debt settlement services agreement was entered into after June 30, 2015, and (2) the debt settlement firm is not licensed as a collection agency in Ontario nor is it exempt from the requirement of being licensed.

 

sample cancellation and refund demand letter

This is a sample letter which any Ontario resident can use to obtain a full refund of fees from an unlicensed collection agency.  For more information you are invited to contact me.

 

 

Copy of Ontario Debt Law’s debt settlement services agreement

 

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CCDR cancels debt settlement contracts with Ontario clients

 

Last week a Saskatchewan-based debt settlement firm, Canadian Customer Debt Relief Inc. (CCDR), cancelled its contracts with its Ontario clients.  This means that there are a number of former clients of CCDR in Ontario without a debt settlement service provider.  Tomorrow I have a phone call scheduled with one such “orphan” debt settlement client.

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It would appear that Saskatchewan-based debt settlement provider Canadian Customer Debt Relief (CCDR), has sent a letter to its Ontario clients in late January cancelling their debt settlement service contracts leaving clients without a debt settlement service provider.

 

 

CCDR cancelling debt settlement agreements with Ontario clients

Today I received a phone call from an Ontario resident–who wished to remain anonymous–who described himself as a debt settlement client of CCDR living in Roseneath, Ontario.  According to this individual, he received a letter dated January 28, 2016, from CCDR informing him that CCDR was cancelling its debt settlement contract with him.

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This letter dated January 28, 2016, from Saskatchewan-based Canadian Customer Debt Relief (CCDR) informs one of its clients, a resident of Roseneath, Ontario, that the firm is no longer providing debt settlement services to the residents of Ontario.  Some information has been “whited out” on this document to protect the identity of the recipient of this letter.  This page is one of three pages of correspondence from CCDR sent to a client living in Roseneath, Ontario.  The other two pages can be found at the bottom of this post.

 

Why did CCDR cancel its debt settlement contracts with Ontario clients?

According to the January 28, 2016, letter from CCDR addressed to one of its Ontario clients changes to Ontario’s debt settlement laws that came into effect in September of 2015 were instrumental in CCDR’s decision to cease providing debt settlement services to Ontario residents.

What I find odd about this statement is that there were no changes to the law in Ontario regulating debt settlement firms in September of 2015.  If CCDR ceased offering debt settlement services to Ontario residents in January of 2016 then what was the reason for this decision?  It is important to appreciate the fact that not only did CCDR stop taking on new clients in January of this year but also in 2016 it was issuing refunds to Ontario clients.

What I also find odd about this statement is that–according to my confidential source–it was “business as usual” with CCDR’s Ontario clients as late as October of 2015.  This leads me to conclude that something incredibly important happend sometime between October of 2015 and January of 2016 to motivate CCDR to cease providing debt settlement services to Ontario residents.

 

CCDR’s failure to satisfy Ontario-based staffing requirements

I suspect that the real reason for CCDR’s cessation of operations in Ontario is its refusal to comply with the requirement in the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act that its debt negotiator(s)–negotiating settlements on behalf of Ontario clients–work on the premises of its Ontario office.  I wrote about this issue in a post on this blog on August 2, 2015.  Furthermore, in August of 2015 I made a formal complaint to the Ontario Government stating that it would appear that CCDR was contravening Ontario’s Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act because it did not employ any collectors licensed under the Act that worked on the premises of its Ontario office situated at 55 King Street West in Kitchener, Ontario.

I suspect that within a few months of my June 2015 complaint that the Ontario Government was putting some pressure on CCDR to either hire a full-time collector licensed under the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act to work on-site at its Kitchener, Office or wind up its Ontario debt settlement operations.

 

Strong response from CCDR owner Greg Roberts

My August 2nd blog post attracted a strong reaction from Greg Roberts, one of the owners of CCDR.  Mr. Roberts added the following comment at the end of one of my two LinkedIn posts published in June of 2015.

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Greg Roberts, one of the owners of Saskatchewan-based CCDR, posted this Comment at the end of one of my two LInkedIn posts about CCDR in June of 2015.

Contact me if you have any information regarding CCDR’s activities in Ontario

I would invite anyone with information regarding CCDR’s actities in Ontario to contact me.  You are welcome to call me at 1 (866) 966-9941 or (519) 827-5513.  Alternatively, you are welcome to e-mail me at (519) 827-5513.  In particular, I would ask any Ontario resident who was a former client of Canadian Customer Debt Relief (CCDR) to contact me

 

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You are invited to contact me if you have any information regarding the activities of Canadian Customer Debt Relief in Ontario. 

 

 

Documents dated January 28, 2016, sent by CCDR to an Ontario client

 

According to an anonymous source, Canadian Customer Debt Relief (CCDR), sent its Ontario clients three pages of correspondence in late January in connection with the firm’s decision to cancel their existing debt settlement services contract.  A redacted copy of one such letter can be found below.  Any information which can identify the Ontario client of CCDR has been whited out to protect the individual’s identity.

 

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Ontario Government investigating Complete Debt Solutions?

 

About seven months ago I wrote two posts regarding a Toronto-based debt settlement firm, Complete Debt Solutions.  This firm had a website, www.completedebtsolutions.ca, offering debt settlement services to Canadians, Americans, as well as residents of the United Kingdom.  At that time Complete Debt Solutions appeared to be contravening Ontario’s debt settlement law and I made a formal complaint to the Ontario Government concerning this firm.  Now seven months after I made my formal complaint to the Ontario Government Complete Debt Solutions may be facing some tough questions from Ontario regulators.

The homepage for the firm’s website, www.completedebtsolutions.ca is reproduced below.

CompleteDebtSolutionshomepagetopofpage

CompleteDebtSolutionshomepagebottomofpage

More than seven months after I made a formal complaint to the Ontario Government concerning Complete Debt Solutions, a Toronto-based debt settlement firm which is contravening Ontario law, the firm’s website, www.completedebtsolutions.ca, is still up.

 

I wrote two posts about this firm.  The first post, dated June 22, 2015, was titled “Complete Debt Solutions Operating in Canada Illegally?”.  The second post, dated July 19, 2015, 2015, was titled “Complete Debt Solutions and the smoking gun“.

In my first post dated June 22nd I shared with readers that I made a formal complaint to the Ontario Government concerning what appeared to be a Toronto-based firm offering debt settlement services to Ontario residents in the absence of possessing the required license–an Ontario collection agency license–or being exempt from this requirement.

In my second post, dated July 19, 2015, I reproduced a copy of a debt settlement agreement that Mr. Milton Kaseke of Complete Debt Solutions sent to a prospective client.  You can find a copy of this document at the end of my July 19, 2015 post.  This document would appear to be evidence of multiple contraventions of a variety of provisions under the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act.  One of the most troublesome provisions of this agreement were the up-front fees Complete Debt Solutions would be charging the prospective client.

In January of this year I received an e-mail from an Investigator with the Investigations Unit of the Consumer Protection Branch, Ontario Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, advising me that he had been assigned the file with respect to my complaint involving Complete Debt Solutions.  I subsequently spoke with the Investigator on the phone and he arranged to meet me at my residence on January 22, 2016.  On that date I made a sworn statement in connection with my complaint.

I am pleased to learn that after going through the time and trouble of making a complaint against a firm that would appear to be clearly operating in contravention of the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act that the Ontario Government has assigned an Investigator to the file.  I am disappointed however, that it took the Ontario Government more than six months to assign an Investigator to a complaint which involves a straightforward violation of the Ontario Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act.

In Ontario any firm offering debt settlement services to the public must either possess the necessary license or be exempt from the requirement of having a license.  In June of 2015 Complete Debt Solutions did not possess an Ontario collection agency license nor was it exempt from doing so.  To the best of my knowledge, today–seven months after I made my formal complaint concerning Complete Debt Solutions–the firm does not possess the necessary license nor is it exempt from the Act.  I do, however, still see the firm’s website, www.completedebtsolutions.ca, offering debt settlement services to Ontario residents.

A significant amount of the evidence-gathering for an investigation of Complete Debt Solutions can be found in my two posts dated June 22, 2015, and July 19, 2015.

It would appear that no one at the Consumer Protection Branch at the Ministry of Consumer Services has had the time to read the Mark Silverthorn Blog over the past ten months.

 

Contact me if you have any information regarding Complete Debt Solutions

I would invite anyone with information regarding Complete Debt Solutions to contact me at (519) 827-5513.  Alternatively, you are welcome to send me an e-mail at markasilverthorn@gmail.com.

If you entered into a debt settlement agreement with Complete Debt Solutions then you might be entited, under Ontario law, to a one hundred percent refund of any monies paid to Complete Debt Solutions.

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Anyone with information regarding Complete Debt Solutions is invited to contact me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Midnight January 6th deadline for placing nominations for Who’s Who for Canadian collection industry

 

Midnight on Wednesday, January 6th is the deadline for submitting nominations–via e-mail–for an upcoming Who’s Who of the Canadian collection industry.  QuickCheck’s 500 Most Influential People in the Canadian Collection Industry:  2016 Edition,  will be published on Sunday, January 10th.

The QuickCheck “500 List” is scheduled to be published on www.comprehensivedebtsolutions.ca, before midnight on Sunday, January 10th.  It may very well be published on other websites as well in January.

 

Who is compiling this list?

This list is being compiled by staff at Woodbridge, Ontario-based QuickCheck Canada, a supplier of not only a secure database preventing concurrent payday loans but also turnkey software for payday loan operators.  Hundreds of hours of staff time have been dedicated to this project.  This project has been something that Sedef Karansu, QuickCheck Canada’s President, has been thinking about for quite some time.

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QuickCheck’s 500 Most Influential People in the Canadian Collection Industry:  2016 Edition, has been something that Sedef Karansu, QuickCheck Canada’s President, has wanted to do for some time.

 

Senior management at QuickCheck Canada has insider knowledge of the credit and collection industry, the bankruptcy and insolvency community, and the payday loan industry.  QuickCheck Canada’s extensive network of contacts across the country has been very helpgul in putting together this “500 List”.

 

How to nominate a person for inclusion in the QuickCheck “500 List”

Anyone can nominate a person to have their name included in QuickCheck’s 500 Most Influential People in the Canadian Collection Industry: 2016 Edition.  You can nominate a person by simply sending an e-mail to Yvonne Dean at Quick Check Canada at yvonne.dean@quickcheckcanada.com before midnight on Wednesday, January 6th.  The following information should be included in an e-mail nomination:

  • first name (or initials)
  • last name
  • name of organization person working for
  • job title

 

Broad range of categories included in QuickCheck’s “500 List”

QuickCheck’s 500 Most Influential People in the Canadian collection industry:  2016 Edition, will include individuals from a diverse range of categories including the following:

  • bankruptcy trustees
  • bloggers
  • collection agencies
  • collection lawyers
  • credit grantors
  • debt buyers
  • federal regulators
  • first party collections
  • industry associations
  • provincial and territorial regulators
  • vendors and suppliers to the collection industry
  • websites and social media

 

This list is limited to 500 names

There are thousands of people who work in the credit and collection industry in Canada.  It would be virtually impossible to create a list which includes the names of each and every one of these individuals.  QuickCheck’s challenge has been to identify the 500 most influential individuals.

QuickCheck’s Selection Committee will spend two entire days–Thursday, January 7th, and Friday, January 8th–making the final cuts to get this list down to 500 names.  The Selection Committee will be faced with numerous excruciating difficult decisions when it comes to determining the 500 names which are included in this year’s list.

 

Who’s Who of the Canadian Collection Industry to be published on January 10th

 

In 2015 most of my posts on the Mark Silverthorn Blog have focused on people or firms doing illegal or unethical things.  More recently, I have written several posts about being sued for $100K for defamation for writing a post that was critical of a Canadian company.  What you are about to read is not your typical post on the Mark Silverthorn Blog.

 

QuickCheck’s 500 Most Influential People in the Canadian Collection Industry:  2016 Edition will be published on January 10, 2016

This post is different.  It is a feel-good story about a firm that will be publishing a Who’s Who of the Canadian Collection Industry.  This list, QuickCheck’s 500 Most Influential People in the Canadian Collection Industry: 2016 Edition, is scheduled to be published on January 10, 2016.  I am proud to say that www.comprehensivedebtsolutions.ca will be publishing this list on January 10, 2016.  It is very likely that this list will also be published on other websites as well and on various social media platform on or after January 10, 2016.

 

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QuickCheck, based in Woodbridge, Ontario, is a supplier of software for the Canadian payday loan industry.  It offers proprietary software which prevents concurrent payday loans from a consumer and it also offers turnkey software for payday loan operators.

 

 

List a product of hundreds of hours of research

Sedef Karansu, the President of Woodbridge, Ontario-based QuickCheck, says that “more than 1,000-person hours were involved in the preparation of QuickCheck’s 500 Most Influential People in the Canadian Collection Industry:  2016 Edition.”

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Sedef Karansu, the President of QuickCheck, reviews the preliminary list of more than 200 names for the Collection Agencies Category in QuickCheck’s 500 of the Most Influential People in the Canadian Collection Industry:  2016 Edition.

 

 

This list is but one example of how QuickCheck’s senior management has an extensive network of contacts throughout the country–in credit and collection industry, amongst bankruptcy trustees, and the payday loan industry.

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The QuickCheck Team looks at a preliminary list of names for inclusion in QuickCheck’s 500 Most Influential People in the Canadian Collection Industry:  2016 Edition.

 

 

List to include specific information

A listing in QuickCheck’s 500 Most Influential People in the Canadian Collection Industry:  2016 Edition will include the following information:

  • last name
  • first name (or initials)
  • name of the organization working for
  • job title

 

List will be subdivided into several different categories

Like the Grammies or the Academy Awards, QuickCheck’s 500 Most Influential People in the Canadian Collection Industry;  2016 Edition will be broken down into several different categories.  It is my understanding that these categories will include the following:

  • bankruptcy trustees
  • bloggers
  • collection agencies
  • collection lawyers
  • credit grantors
  • debt buyers
  • federal regulators
  • first party collections
  • industry associations
  • provincial and territorial regulators
  • vendors and suppliers to the collection industry
  • websites and social media

 

Nominations close midnight on Wednesday, January 6th

The QuickCheck team currently preparing QuickCheck’s 500 Most Influential People in the Canadian Collection Industry:  2016 Edition is still accepting nominations.  Nominations will close at midnight at midnight on Wednesday, January 6, 2016.

If you would like to nominate someone–including yourself–for inclusion in QuickCheck’s 500 Most Influential People in the Collection Industry: 2016 Edition–then you should e-mail your request to Yvonne Dean at yvonne.dean@quickcheckcanada.com.

 

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Is MNP Ltd. sharing an office with a debt consultant in Barrie, Ontario?

 

MNP Ltd., one of the two largest national bankruptcy firms in Canada, may be sharing an office with a debt consultant in Barrie, Ontario.  Such an arrangement could potentially raise a number of ethical concerns and might draw the attention of the federal Superintendent of Bankruptcy, responsible for supervising the conduct of Canada’s 1,600 federally licensed bankruptcy trustees.

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Sometime in November both MNP Ltd., one of the two largest national firms of bankruptcy trustees in Canada, and Debt Relief Canada Inc., a debt consulting firm which engages in deceptive marketing practices, moved into adjacent office space on the ground floor at 136 Bayfield Street in Barrie, Ontario. 

 

The two firms either share a suite or their two premises are situated adjacent to one another in order to facilitate referrals from Debt Relief Canada Inc. to MNP Ltd.   Based upon our three-month investigation I can say that Laura Vivian, the owner of Debt Relief Canada Inc., has been a substantial source of referrals for MNP Ltd. in communities throughout Ontario–as far afield as Markham and Mississauga.

 

Formal complaint to the Superintendent of Banrkruptcy

Following my firm’s three-month investigation into the activities of Debt Relief Canada Inc., and its relationship with certain bankruptcy trustees, I will be filing a formal complaint with the federal Superintendent of Bankruptcy asking him to investigate MNP Ltd. and A. Farber & Partners Inc., concerning potential violations of the Code of Ethics For Trustees in Bankruptcyand in particular section 38.

 

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The conduct of federally licensed bankruptcy trustees is governed by the Code of Ethics For Trustees in Bankruptcy.

 

Section 38 of the Code of Ethics For Trustees in Bankruptcy reads as follows:

Trustees shall not assist, advise or encourage any person to engage in any conduct that the trustees know, or ought to know, is illegal or dishonest, in respect of the bankruptcy and insolvency process.

I believe a prima facie case can be made out with respect to the following:

  1. That the conduct of Debt Relief Canada Inc. and its counsellors–Laura Vivian and Rebecca Schaafsma–constitute “dishonesty in respect of the bankruptcy and insolvency process”;
  2. That MNP Ltd. and A. Farber & Partners Inc. knew or ought to have known of this dishonesty; and
  3. That MNP Ltd. and A. Farber & Partners “assisted, advised or encouraged” this dishonesty.

 

Debt Relief Canada’s 2015 shell game with six Ontario offices

In November I have written two LinkedIn posts focusing on Debt Relief Canada Inc.’s shell game with its six Ontario office locations descibed on the firm’s website, debtreliefcanada.ca; a November 9, 2015 post titled Farber & Partners defends sharing office with debt consulting firm, and November 15, 2015 post titled Debt Relief Canada Inc.’s shell game with Ontario offices and bankruptcy trustees continues.

 

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On November 9, 2015, and November 12, 2015, I wrote two LinkedIn posts chronicling Debt Relief Canada Inc’s bizarre and false representations on the firm’s website, reliefcanada.ca, concerning its “six Ontario offices”.

 

One of the webpages on Debt Relief Canada Inc.’s website is CONTACT where, over the past 60 days website visitors could find the firm’s six Ontario offices.  Over a 2-day period–September 9th and 10th–I personally visited all six of these offices described on Debt Relief Canada’s website–and despite considerable effort I could find no evidence that the firm had any offices at four of these locations, Burlington, London, Markham, and Mississauga.  I only found actual offices for Debt Relief Canada Inc. in Barrie and in Kitchener.  The firm was simply making false claims on its website that it had offices in Burlington, London, Markham, and Mississauga.

 

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This screenshot of Debt Relief Canada Inc.’s CONTACT webpage was taken on September 9, 2015.  On that date this webpage’s information regarding an office in Barrie and Kitchener were accurate.  This webpage’s information, however, regarding office locations for Debt Relief Canada Inc. in Burlington, London, Markham, and Mississauga were false.

 

Debt Relief Canada’s shell game–with MNP Ltd.–resumes in Barrie

Just when I thought I could write some posts regarding some other debt consultants I discovered a dramatic new development in Debt Relief Canada’s ongoing shell game with its six Ontario offices.  Sometime in November Debt Relief Canada Inc. would appear to have relocated its Barrie office–located in a corporate business centre at 135 Bayfield Street–and moved into a suite which it is sharing with MNP Ltd., one of the two largest national firms of bankruptcy trustees in Canada.

 

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This photograph was taken on November 25, 2015, on the ground floor of 136 Bayfield Street in Barrie, Ontario.  Signage on the first floor of 136 Bayfield Street lists Debt Relief Canada as having a suite at Suite 107A and MNP Ltd. as having a suite at Suite 107B.

 

Debt Relief Canada shares office space with Farber in Kitchener

Debt Relief Canada Inc. is no stranger to sharing office space with a firm of bankruptcy trustees.  In Kitchener, Ontario, Debt Relief Canada Inc. currently shares an office with Farber & Partners Inc., one of the largest firms of bankruptcy trustees operating in Ontario.  Farber has 50 offices, about 48 in Ontario, and another two in British Columbia.  You can read more about this topic in my LinkedIn post dated November 9, 2015 titled Farber & Partners defends practice of sharing office with debt consulting firm.

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This is a photograph of Suite 507, 30 Duke Street West, Kitchener, Ontario.  Debt Relief Canada Inc. shares this space with A. Farber & Partners Inc., one of the largest firms of bankruptcy trustees operating in Ontario. 

 

In a November 6, 2015 phone conversation with Alan Farber, Founder and Joint Managing Founder of Farber Financial Group–which Alan generously consented to being recorded–Alan Farber can be heard saying “we never share these offices with debt consultants”.

One business day after I confronted Alan Farber during a telephone interview about A. Farber & Partner Inc.’s relationships with certain debt consultants who engaged in unethical marketing practices I received a letter from a lawyer–sent of behalf of A. Farber & Partners Inc.–threatening to sue me for defamation.

 

MNP Ltd. is one of the two largest national bankruptcy firms in Canada

On its website, Calgary-based MNP Ltd. reveals that it has more than 150 offices across Canada.  To the best of my knowledge, MNP Ltd.’s Barrie, Ontario office, located at 136 Bayfield Street, is the only office in the country where MNP Ltd. may be sharing space with a debt consultant.

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This is a photograph of 136 Bayfield Street, Barrie, Ontario, where MNP Ltd., one of the two largest firms of bankruptcy trustees in Canada, would appear to be sharing space with a debt consulting firm, Debt Relief Canada Inc.

 

Both Debt Relief Canada Inc. and MNP Ltd. moved into adjacent office space on the ground floor at 136 Bayfield Street in November

Both Debt Relief Canada Inc. and MNP Ltd. moved into office space on the ground floor at 136 Bayfield Street in Barrie, Ontario sometime in November of this year. The receptionist at the Bayfield Executive Suites, located at 135 Bayfield Street, informed me last week that Debt Relief Canada moved out from their premises the end of October.  My sources also indicate that MNP Ltd. moved out of its former Barrie location at the end of October of this year.

During our three-month investigation into the activities of Debt Relief Canada Inc. it became evident that Laura Vivian, the Barrie, Ontario-based owner of Debt Relief Canada Inc., was acting as a source of a substantial number of consumers being referred to bankruptcy trustees working at MNP Ltd.  Given the fact that Debt Relief Canada would appear to routinely refer files to MNP Ltd. at the latter’s Markham and Mississauga offices, the fact that both firms moved into space beside one another in the same building in Barrie cannot be a coincidence.  I believe that the decision by MNP Ltd. and Debt Relief Canada Inc. to move into adjacent office space–in the same month–in Barrie, Ontario, was a joint decision.

This simultaneous relocation–by both Debt Relief Canada Inc. and MNP Ltd.–into adjacent office space on the ground floor at 136 Bayfield Street in Barrie, Ontario–would facilitate Laura Vivian referring consumers to trustees working for MNP Ltd. situated in office space less than 50 feet away from her desk.

 

Address for MNP Ltd.’s Barrie office appearing on firm’s website

It is interesting to compare the address appearing on the ground floor tenant directory at 136 Bayfield Street with the address for this same office appearing on MNP Ltd.’s website.

 

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This screenshot from MNP Ltd.’s website captured on November 25, 2015, indicates that the address for MNP Ltd.’s Barrie, Ontario office is 136 Bayfield Street, Suite 107–and not Suite 107B.

 

One can only wonder why MNP Ltd.’s website lists the suite number for its Barrie office as Suite 107 and the tenant directory signage at 136 Bayfield Street is Suite 107B?

 

Information gleaned from looking at groundfloor floorplan

A person visiting the ground floor at 136 Bayfield Street in Barrie, Ontario would likely conclude that Suite 107 has been subdivided into two separate suites, Suite 107A for Debt Relief Canada and Suite 107B for MNP Ltd.  This is certainly what the information contained on the first floor tenant directory signage would suggest, as well as the fact that there appears to be two doors on the ground floor hallway–one of Debt Relief Canada and one for MNP Ltd.

But has Suite 107 at 136 Bayfield Street in Barrie, Ontario, been subdivided into two separate suites?  According to the floor plan for the first floor at 136 Bayfield Street–obtained on November 25, 2015, from Royal LePage, the real estate broker for the building–there is no wall subdividing Suite 107.

 

FirstFloorSchematics136BayfieldStreet

This floorplan for the first floor at 136 Bayfield Street, Barrie, Ontario–which was obtained on November 25, 2015–indicates that there is no wall subdividing Suite 107 into two separate suites.  Blue highlights have been added to this document.

 

The three doors in the vicinity of Suite 107

This document shows three doorways from the hallway into what appears to be Suite 107.  The entrance towards the bottom of this page is the door for MNP Ltd., the next door–higher up this page–is the door to a women’s washroom, and the third door is the entrance for Debt Relief Canada.

Three Doors groundlfoor hallway 136 Bayfield Street Barrie

From left to right, there are three doors that appear in the vicinity of Suite 107.  To the left is the entrance to MNP Ltd., Suite 107B.  To the right of this door is the door to the women’s washroom.  To the right of the door to the women’s washroom is the entrance to Debt Relief Canada, Suite 107A.

 

Who works at 136 Bayfield Street, Suite 107, Barrie, Ontario?

It would appear that Laura Vivian, who is described on Debt Relief Canada Inc.’s website, reliefcanada.ca, as a Senior Insolvency Counsellor, works in Suite 107 at 136 Bayfield Street, Barrie, Ontario.  According to her LinkedIn Profile, Laura Vivian owns Debt Relief Canada Inc.

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According to her LinkedIn Profile, Laura Vivian owns Debt Relief Canada Inc.

 

Names of individuals working at Suite 107 other than Laura Vivian

I am currently compiling a list of names of everyone working at Suite 107 other than Laura Vivian.  If you have any information about who works at 136 Bayfield Street, Unit 107 you are invited to contact me at (866) 996-9941 or (519) 827-5513.  Alternatively, you can send me an e-mail at mark@comprehensivedebtsolutions.ca.  Anyone providing such information can do so on a confidential basis.  In more than three decades I have never revealed the names of any of my sources.

One of the individuals who would appear to be working at 136 Bayfield Street, Unit 107, is Karen Miller, Bankruptcy Trustee.  I was able to confirm this information on the website for MNP Ltd., mnp.

Karen Miller Bankruptcy Trustee

According to MNP Ltd.’s website, MNPdebt.ca, Karen Miller works out of 136 Bayfield Street, Suite 107B.  Based upon the floor plan provided to us by Royal LePage last week, Karen Miller’s desk must be no further than 50 feet from Laura Vivian’s desk located at 136 Bayfield, Suite 107A.

 

I was filmed during my recent visit to 136 Bayfield St. in Barrie

In the past few days I attended in person at 136 Bayfield Street and at the Bayfield Executive Offices, located across the street.  While I was at 136 Bayfield Street I took some photographs from outside looking towards 136 Bayfield Street.

Twoexteriorphotos136BayfieldStreetBarrie

When I was in Barrie this past  week I took a photo of the front entrance of 136 Bayfield Street as well as a photo of the rear of the building.  In the picture (far right) the windows on the left side of the photo would be the windows for Suite 107.

 

You can imagine my surprise when I noticed a woman–someone whom I saw enter Suite 107 earlier that day–filming me on their cellphone while I was standing some distance from the rear of the building shooting video footage of 136 Bayfield Street.

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I suspect that that the individual filimg me on her cellphone is Karen Miller, Bankruptcy Trustee, who took photos or video footage of me using a cellphone this past week from Suite 107, 136 Bayfield Street, Barrie, Ontario.

 

Debt Relief Canada “closes” four of its six Ontario offices over a two-week period in November?

Anyone who has been regularly checking the CONTACT webpage on Debt Relief Canada Inc.’s website, reliefcanada.ca, might come to the conclusion that this debt consulting firm closed four of its six Ontario offices in the past two weeks!  It helps if one compares a screenshot of Debt Relief Canada’s CONTACT webpage captured on November 12, 2015 with one captured on November 26–14 days later.

This screenshot–captured on November 12, 2015–taken from Debt Relief Canada Inc.’s website clearly indicates that Debt Relief Canada Inc. has six Ontario offices.

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This screenshot of Debt Relief Canada Inc.’s CONTACT webpage was captured on November 12, 2015.

 

This screenshot, captured on November 26, 2015–some 14 days later–shows that Debt Relief Canada has gone from six Ontario offices to two headquarters and four “Counselling Locations”.

NOV 262015 CONTACT PAGE

 

This screenshot–captured on November 26, 2015–found on Debt Relief Canada Inc.’s website, reliefcanada.ca, reveals that the firm has two headquarters, Kitchener and Ontario, and four “Counselling Locations” in Burlington, London, Markham, and Mississauga.

 

Central Ontario HQ

Laura Vivian, based in Barrie, Ontario, would appear to be responsible for Debt Relief Canada’s Central Ontario HQ located in its new office space at 136 Bayfield Street.  Based upon my firm’s three-month investigation of Debt Relief Canada Inc., it would be fair to describe Laura Vivian as a source of a substantial number of referrals to MNP Ltd., in Barrie, the immediate vicinity of Barrie, Markham, and Mississauga.

I suspect that a member of the public scheduling a counselling session with Debt Relief Canada Inc. at the above-noted Markham location would be meeting with Laura Vivian at either Suite 700 or Suite 900, 3100 Steeles Avenue East, one of MNP Ltd.’s two suites in the building.  It would be difficult to meet at Debt Relief Canada Inc.’s office at 3100 Steeles Avenue East because–according to the tenant directory in the building–Debt Relief Canada Inc.–does not have an office in the building.

3100 Steeles Avenue East tenant directory

This photograph of the tenant directory of 3100 Steeles Avenue East, Markham, Ontario, was taken on November 10, 2015.  According to this tenant directory, Debt Relief Canada Inc. does not have an office in this building.

 

I also suspect that a member of the public doing a “counselling session” at Debt Relief Canada Inc.’s Mississauga location would be meeting with Laura Vivian at one of MNP Ltd.’s two offices located at 50 Burnhamthorpe Road West–likely Suite 801.

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A member of the public seeking a counselling session with Debt Relief Canada Inc. in Mississsauga should not be surprised that–following one or two 30-minute preliminary phone calls with Laura Vivian–they subsequently meet with both Laura Vivian and a trustee working for MNP Ltd. at 50 Burnhamthorpe Road West, Suite 801.

 

Southwestern Ontario HQ

Kitchener, Ontario-based Rebecca Schaafsma is in charge of Debt Relief Canada’s Southwestern Ontario Headquarters which is located in an office suite shared with A. Farber & Partners Ltd, Bankruptcy Trustees, one of the largest firms of bankruptcy trustees operating in Ontario.  Based upon our three-month investigation of Debt Relief Canada Inc. it would be fair to describe Rebecca Schaafsma as a substantial source of referrals for A. Farber & Partners Inc., Bankruptcy Trustees, in not only Kitchener, but also London, Burlington, and possibly Hamilton.

I arranged to have multiple mystery shoppers–posing as consumers struggling with unsecured consumer debt–and armed with miniature, hidden cameras–meet with Ms. Schaafsma over the past several months.  At the conclusion of each initial meeting Ms. Schaafsma recommended that our mystery shopper not only do a consumer proposal but also they they do this consumer proposal through a trustee working for A. Farber & Partners Inc., a firm that Debt Relief Canada Inc. shares space with.

 

Dishonest conduct by Debt Relief Canada Inc.

Dishonest conduct by Debt Relief Canada Inc. is not limited to making false claims on its website about non-existent offices.  Debt Relief Canada would also appear to be using bait-and-switch tactics to entice consumers who do not want to use the services of a bankruptcy trustee to meet with them.  Furthermore, Debt Relief Canada goes to great lengths to hide the fact that the “programs” it facilitates are consumer proposals and personal bankruptcy.  Finally, one could could make the case that Rebecca Schaafsma and Laura Vivian’s conduct are that of a marketing agent and not that of an independent financial advisor acting in the best interests of clients.

 

1.     Bait-and-switch tactics employed by Debt Relief Canada Inc.

On its homepage Debt Relief Canada Inc. holds itself out as a firm which provides independent and unbiased advice to consumers struggling with unsecured debt.  At the very bottom of the homepage for Debt Relief Canada, reliefcanada.ca, it states “We are NOT Bankruptcy Trustees”.

BottomDRCIhomepageWeareNOTBankruptcyTrustees

The website for Debt Relief Canada Inc. claims that “We are NOT bankruptcy trustees”. 

 

Is that statement “We are NOT bankruptcy trustees” dishonest given the fact that when we mystery shopped debt counsellors working for Debt Relief Canada Inc. the only recommdations that they have made is that our mystery shopper not only do a consumer proposal but also that it be done through a particular firm of bankruptcy trustees–in some instances with a firm the debt consultant is sharing space with?

 

2.  Hiding the fact that they facilitate consumer proposals and personal bankruptcy

Earlier this year we mystery shopped both Laura Vivian and Rebecca Schaafsma and these mystery shopping encounters were recorded.  What jumps out during these recordings is the lengths to which both Laura Vivian and Rebecca Schaafsma avoid making any reference to the fact that the two “goverment programs” that they facilitate are ones that only a bankruptcy trustee can file on behalf of a consumer.  Neither Laura Vivian nor Rebecca Schaafsma ever say the phrase “bankruptcy trustee”.  Instead they use the term “court officer”.  They inform our mystery shopper that a “court officer” would file a “proposal” on behalf of the consumer.

 

3Sept142015RebeccaSchaafsmaNinamystershoppingencounter

In September of this year I arranged to have a number of mystery shoppers–armed with a hiddent video camera–meet with Rebecca Schaafsma at 30 Duke Street West, Suite 507, Kitchener, Ontario, an office Debt Relief Canada Inc. shares with a firm of bankruptcy trustees, A. Farber & Partners Inc.

 

During this meeting Rebecca spoke about how Debt Relief Canada “facilitated” consumers taking advantage of federal government programs that would enable a person to consolidate or reduce their debt, with zero percent interest.

At no time did the words “bankruptcy trustee” pass Rebecca Schaafsma’s lips during these mystery shopping encounters.  In Canada only federally licensed bankruptcy trustees can legally file a consumer proposal or a personal bankruptcy on behalf of a consumer.  Rebecca Schaafsma made numerous references to “court officers” filing legal documents on behalf of a consumer doing a “proposal”.  When one of my mystery shoppers asked who the court officer was she was referring to she acknowledged that it was someone in the adjacent office working for Farber.  In another instance she referred to Graeme Whitehead by name, who is a bankruptcy trustee at A. Farber & Partners Inc., Bankruptcy Trustees.

 

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Graeme Whitehead, CIRP, Bankruptcy Trustee, Partner, A. Farber & Partners Inc.

 

 

When one of our mystery shoppers met with Rebecca Schaafsma in September of this year Rebecca provided our mystery shopper with an 8-page document  titled Initial Assessment.  This entire document is reproduced at the very end of this post.

PPs 1 and 8 Sept 28 2015 DRCI Initial Assessment Form

Pictured above are copies of pages 1 and 8 of an 8-page document that Rebecca Schaafsma provided to our mystery shopper in late September of this year at Debt Relief Canada Inc.’s Kitchener office, 30 Duke Street West, Suite 507, a suite which it shares with A. Farber & Partners Inc., Bankruptcy Trustees.

 

 

One of our mystery shoppers, carrying a hidden, miniature camera, met with Rebecca Schaafsma in late September of this year.  This mystery shopping encounter was captured on video for posterity.  During this meeting Rebecca Schaafsma completed an 8-page document titled Initial Assessment, which she then gave to our mystery shopper.  Debt Relief Canada did not charge our mystery shopper for the Initial Consultation which took place on this date.  Our mystery shopper, however, was informed that Debt Relief Canada Inc. would charge a fee of $700.00, plus H.S.T., for the second meeting at which time paperwork would be put together to be presented to a “court officer” prior to filing a proposal.  Furthemore, Rebecca Schaafsma informed our mystery shopper that she would have to pay an additional $700.00, plus H.S.T., at a third meeting when the consumer would meet with both Rebecca Schaafsma and a “court officer” to determine whether or not the “court officer” would file the proposal on her behalf.  In summary, if our mystery shopper chose to not only hire  Debt Relief Canada Inc. but also proceed with a consumer proposal then Debt Relief Canada Inc. would have charged her $1,400.00, plus H.S.T., for its consulting services.

Let’s contrast this with the scenario where, if, instead of meeting with Rebecca Schaafsma of Debt Relief Canada Inc., our mystery shopper had telephoned A. Farber & Partners Inc.’s Kitchener office directly–and then scheduled an appointment with a trustee at A. Farber & Partners Inc. at 30 Duke Street West, Suite 507–and stated her intention to make a consumer proposal with A. Farber & Partners Inc.   In this scenario the firm of bankruptcy trustees would have essentially prepared virtually all of the paperwork that Debt Relief Canada Inc. would have prepared and the cost to the consumer:  ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!

It is professional miconduct for a bankruptcy trustee to charge a fee to a consumer with respect to the preparation of a consumer proposal.

 

3.   Conduct consistent with an exclusive marketing agent for a firm of bankruptcy trustees and inconsistent with an independent debt counsellor

I have reviewed the audio recordings and the video footage of the mystery shopping encounters with both Laura Vivian and Rebecca Schaasfma.  Their conduct during these encounters is consistent with a person acting as a marketing representative for a single firm of bankruptcy trustees.  Their conduct is not consistent with that  of an independent consultant providing unbiased advice to a person struggling with unsecured consumer debt.

At no time did either Laura Vivian nor Rebecca Schaafsma ask our mystery shoppers for the date of last payment on each of their unsecured consumer debts–a crucial question–to determine whether or not they had the option of not paying the debt where the date of last payment was more than 2 years ago because of the expiry of Ontario’s 2-year limitation period.

Furthermore, neither did Laura Vivian nor Rebecca Schaafsma ask questions about our mystery shopper’s employment to determine whether or not a creditor would realistically be able to successfully garnish their wages if the consumer simply quit their job if they were subject to a wage garnishment.  A significant number of Canadians are essentially judgment proof or near-judgment proof because they can simply quit their job if a creditor with a judgment against them were to attempt a wage garnishment.

Finally, both Laura Vivian and Rebecca Schaafsma misrepresented a consumer’s ability to settle a debt at significant discount by negotiating a one-time lump sum payment with a creditor–or a creditor’s authorized collection agent.

 

Sept 28 2015 mystery shopping

When Rebecca Schaffsma met with our mystery shoppers earlier this year her conduct was consistent with someone who was a marketing agent for Farber & Partners Inc., Bankruptcy Trustees, and not someone who was an independent debt consultant who was acting in the best interests of the consumer.

 

After reviewing these mystery shopping encounters it would appear that both Laura Vivian and Rebecca Schaafsma are not acting as independent consultants providing unbiased advice in the best interests of consumers, but rather that they are acting as marketing representatives for a single firm of bankruptcy trustees and potentially for one or more non-profit credit counselling agencies.

 

Contact Mark Silverthorn if you have any information about Debt Relief Canada, Laura Vivian, Rebecca Schaafsma, and their relationship with MNP Ltd. and A. Farber & Partners Inc.

 

Anyone who has information regarding Debt Relief Canada, or its two Ontario-based debt counsellors, Laura Vivian and Rebecca Schaafsma–as well as the the firm’s relationship with MNP Ltd. and A. Farber & Partners Inc.

According to its website Debt Relief Canada Inc. operates in both Alberta and British Columbia.  Anyone with information regarding the names of trustees receiving files from Debt Relief Canada Inc. in Alberta and British Columbia are invited to contact me.

You are welcome to call me at 1 (866) 966-9941 or (519) 827-5513.  Alternatively, you are welcome to send me an e-mail at mark@comrehensivedebtsolutions.ca.

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You are welcome to contact me if you have any information regarding Debt Relief Canada Inc., Laura Vivian, Rebecca Schaafsma, or their relationship with MNP Ltd. and A. Farber & Partners Inc., Bankruptcy Trustees.

 

 

8-page Initial Consultation form prepared by Rebecca Schaafsma for our mystery shopper

In late September of this year Kitchener, Ontario-based Rebecca Schaafsma gave the following 8-page document to one of our mystery shoppers who met with her at Debt Relief Canada Inc.’s Kitchener office located at 30 Duke Street West, Suite 507, a suite which is shared with one of the largest firms of bankruptcy trustees in Ontario, A. Farber & Partners Inc.

You can read this 8-page Initial Assessment form prepared by Rebecca Schaafsma for our mystery shopper in late September of this year by clicking on the following link:

Sept28 Initial Consultation form

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I confront Alan Farber over potential violations of Code of Ethics for Trustees in Bankrupty

 

On Friday, November 6, 2015, I had a 27-minute telephone conversation with Alan Farber, Founder and Joint Managing Partner, of Farber Financial Group.  Near the beginning of this phone call Alan graciously consented to having the phone call recorded.  One of the firms which forms part of this organization is A. Farber & Partners, Bankruptcy Trustees, one of the largest firms of bankruptcy trustees operating in Ontario.

 

 

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Listen to my telephone conversation with Alan Farber

During this phone call I provided Alan with facts which I believe raise legitimate questions about potential violations of section 38 of the Code of Ethics For Bankruptcy Trustees by his firm arising from relationships with specific debt consultants. During this phone call I advised Mr. Farber that it was my intention to file a formal complaint with the Superintendent of Bankruptcy asking him to determine whether or not Farber & Partner’s current relationship with Debt Relief Canada Inc. constitutes a violation of section 38 of the Code of Ethics of Ethics for Trustees in Bankruptcy.

Nov62015phonecallAlanFarberMarkSilverthorn

On November 6, 2015, I had a telephone call with Alan Farber, the Founder and Joint Managing Partner of Financial Group at which time I confronted him regarding the relationship between Farber & Partners Inc., Bankruptcy Trustees, and a debt consulting firm, Debt Relief Canada Inc.

 

Farber and Partners has threatened to sue me for libel and slander

Earlier today, November 9, 2015, one business day following my telephone call with Alan Farber, I received a letter from a lawyer working for Farber and Partners Inc., Melanie Wengle, in which she threatened to sue me for libel and slander.

I want to assure you–my readers–that our firm, Comprehensive Debt Solutions Inc.–is dedicated to the pursuit of the truth–and we refuse to be intimidated by threats of lawsuits from large organizations with deep pockets which think they can silence me.

 

Section 38 of the Code of Ethics For Trustees in Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy trustees in Canada are licensed by the federal government.  They are supervised by the Superintendent of Bankruptcy in Ottawa.  All bankruptcy trustees are required to comply with the Code of Ethics For Trustees in Banktruptcy.

CodeofEhticsTrusteesCoversnipped

 

Section 38 of the Code of Ethics reads as follows:

Trustees shall not assist, advise or encourage any person to engage in any conduct that the trustees know, or ought to know, is illegal or dishonest, in respect of the bankruptcy and insolvency process.

 

 

Farber’s relationship with Debt Relief Canada

 

Over the past several months our research has uncovered a close working relationship between Farber & Partners, Bankruptcy Trustees, and a debt consulting firm by the name of Debt Relief Canada Inc. I believe that the Superintendent of Bankruptcy should make inquiries to determine whether or not the relationship between Farber & Partners, Bankruptcy Trustees, and Debt Relief Canada Inc. constitutes a violation of section 38 of the Code of Ethics for Trustees in Bankruptcy.

 

What do we know about Debt Relief Canada Inc.?

Our research indicates that there are three people working for Debt Relief Canada Inc.  These individuals include Laura Vivian, who would appear to the owner of the company.  Her title is listed as Senior Insolvency Counsellor.  To the best of my knowledge Laura works in Barrie out of an office located in a corporate business centre.  She might also work about one day per month in the firm’s Markham and Mississauga offices.

LauraVivianLinkedInProfile

According to Laura Vivian’s LinkedIn Profile she is the owner of Debt Relief Canada Inc.  Her title on the firm’s website is listed as Senior Insolvency Counsellor.  She is based out of the firm’s Barrie office and may spend about one day per month at the firm’s Markham and Mississauga offices.

 

Rebecca Schaafsma works out of Debt Relief Canada’s office in Kitchener, Ontario.  She would also appear to work–from time-to-time–in several other offices in southwestern Ontario including London and Burlington.

A man who identifies himself as Rick answers the phones and would appear to be in charge of screening potential clients and scheduling appointments with the firm’s counsellors.

 

A corporate search reveals that Debt Relief Canada Inc. was incorporated on November 15, 2010, in the Province of Ontario.

 

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This corporate search for Debt Relief Canada Inc., lists the firm’s mailing address as Rebecca Snider, 524 Hidden Creek Drive, Kitchener, Ontario.

 

Rebecca Snider-Schaafsma,–whose LinkedIn Profile appears below–would appear to be the same individual as Rebecca Snider whose name appears on the corporate search for Debt Relief Canada Inc. reproduced above.

Rebecca Schaafsma LinkedIn Profile

This is the LinkedIn Profile for Rebecca Snider-Schaafsma, whose job title is listed as a “Consultant at DRC Inc.”  It would appear that DRC is short for Debt Relief Canada.

 

 

The following bio for Rebecca Schaafsma can be found on the website for Debt Relief Canada Inc., reliefcanada.ca, on the ABOUT US webpage.

RebeccaSchaafsmabioABOUTUSwebpage

 

 

How does Debt Relief Canada Inc. hold itself out to the public?

 

In the next few days I will be filing a formal complaint with the Superintendent of Bankruptcy asking him to determine if the relationship between Farber & Partners, Bankruptcy Trustees, and Debt Relief Canada Inc. constitutes a violation of section 38 of the Code of Ethics For Trustees in Bankruptcy.

In order to determine if there has been a violation of section 38 of the Code of Ethics For Trustees in Bankruptcy then the answer to the following two questions would have to be in the affirmative.

  1. Does the conduct of of Rebecca Schaafsma and/or Debt Relief Canada Inc. constitute “dishonesty in respect of the bankruptcy and insolvency process”?
  2. Assuming that Debt Relief Canada’s conduct does constitute “dishonesty in respect of the bankruptcy and insolvency process”, then has any trustee at Farber & Partners “assisted, advised or encouraged” Rebecca Schaafsma and/or Debt Relief Canada Inc. with respect to “dishonesty in respect of the bankruptcy and insolvency process”?

In this post I will provide you with some details regarding the marketing practices of Debt Relief Canada Inc.  I will be asking both the public and the Superintendent of Bankruptcy whether or not Debt Relief Canada Inc.’s marketing practices are “dishonest in respect of the bankruptcy and insolvency process”?

 

What conduct by Rebecca Schaafsma and/or Debt Relief Canada Inc. might be considered “dishonest in respect of the bankruptcy and insolvency process”?

 

I have identified three specific areas where a reasonable person might come to the conclusion that Debt Relief Canada Inc.’s conduct constitutes “dishonesty in respect of the bankruptcy and insolvency process”.

  1. Misleading nature of the statement appearing on the firm’s homepage:  “We are NOT Bankruptcy Trustees” given the fact that the firm essentially refers individuals to bankruptcy trustees for either consumer proposals or personal bankruptcies–sometimes to bankruptcy trustees working in the same office
  2. Lack of transparency concerning the firm’s relationship with Farber & Partners
  3. Misrepresentations with respect to some of the firm’s office locations

Below you will find a screenshot of the homepage for Debt Relief Canada Inc.’s website, reliefcanada.ca.

 

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I would like to draw your attention to the very bottom of homepage for the website for Debt Relief Canada Inc., reliefcanada.ca, which is reproduced below:

 

BottomDRCIhomepageWeareNOTBankruptcyTrustees

At the very bottom of the homepage for Debt Relief Canada Inc.’s website there appears the statement “We are NOT bankruptcy trustees”. 

 

If Rebecca Schaafsma and Debt Relief Canada Inc. typically recommend that individuals struggling with consumer debt (1) do a consumer proposal or file for personal bankruptcy and (2) they often refer individuals to a particular firm of trustees in a geographic area–and in some instances to bankruptcy trustees working in the same office–is the statement “We are NOT bankruptcy trustees” misleading, or even “dishonest”?

 

 

Debt Relief Canada Inc. shares an office with Farber in Kitchener

Our research indicates that Debt Relief Canada Inc. has a relationship with Farber & Partners, Bankruptcy Trustees, in at least three of Farber’s Ontario offices;  Kitchener, London, and Burlington.

You don’t have to hire a private investigator to discover that A. Farber & Partners Inc., Bankruptcy Trustees, has a relationship with Debt Relief Canada Inc. at Farber’s Kitchener office located at 30 Duke Street West, Suite 507, Kitchener, Ontario.

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This is a photograph of the door to Suite 507, 30 Duke Street West, Kitchener, Ontario.  The names of two firms appear on the door to this suite:  A. Farber & Partners Inc. and Debt Relief Canada Inc.  The former is a firm of bankruptcy trustees and the latter is a debt consulting firm. 

 

Alan Farber told me that his firm did not share space with debt consultants

 

During my November 6, 2015, telephone conversation with Alan Farber I raised concerns about Farber & Partners Inc. sharing office space with Debt Relief Canada Inc. in Kitchener, Ontario.

 

   “We never share these offices with debt consultants”.

Nov62015phonecallAlanFarberstatement

 

Who works at 30 Duke Street West, Suite 507, Kitchener?

 

Whoworksat30DukeStWKitchenerON

 

Several individuals work out of this office including Rebecca Schaafsma, Insolvency Counsellor with Debt Relief Canada Inc., Chad Zizzo, Debt Solutions Manager with Farber & Partners, Bankruptcy Trustees, and Graeme Whitehead, a bankruptcy trustee, and a partner, with Farber & Partners, Bankruptcy Trustees.

According to the website for Farber & Partners Inc., afarber.com, Farber Partners Inc., Bankruptcy Trustees, moved into its offices located at 30 Duke Street West, Suite 507, Kitchener, Ontario, sometime after January 6, 2015, when it closed its office located at 305 King Street West.

 

FarberwebsiteKitchenerofficeinfo

For a significant period of time in 2015 it would appear that Debt Relief Canada Inc., a debt consulting firm whose website states “We are NOT Bankruptcy Trustees”, has been sharing a suite at 30 Duke Street West, Suite 507, in Kitchener, Ontario with Farber & Partners Inc., Bankruptcy Trustees. 

 

Earlier today I received a letter dated November 9, 2015, from Melanie Wengle, a lawyer at Farber and Partners Inc.  In this letter Ms. Wengle concedes that Debt Relief Canada Inc. does refer some of their clients to Farber and Partners Inc., Bankruptcy Trustees, for a consumer proposal or personal bankruptcy.  Here is an excerpt from Ms. Wengle’s letter to me.

 

Nov92015excerptWengleletter

In her letter Ms. Wengle states that Farber & Partners, Bankruptcy Trustees, has never paid any compensation, directly or indirectly, to Debt Relief Canada Inc.  I found that statement odd because during my phone call on Friday, November 6, 2015, with Alan Farber I do not recall suggesting at any time that Farber & Partners was, in fact, paying any  form of compensation, whatsoever, to Debt Relief Canada Inc.

 

 

Debt Relief Canada Inc.’s office located in London

The website for Debt Relief Canada Inc. contains a webpage where the firm lists the contact information for its six Ontario locations, including an office in London and an office in Burlington, Ontario.

 

ContactUSNov52015

On the firm’s website, Debt Relief Canada Inc. provides some information regarding its six Ontario offices, including photographs for all the buildings where the firm’s office is located–except for its office located at 406 Oxford Street East in London, Ontario.

 

406OxfordStEphotomontage

In November of this year I attended at 406 Oxford Street East, London, Ontario.  On that date I was accompanied by Rosie, “The Riveter”, our tracking dog.  The only occupant of this building would appear to be Farber and Partners Inc., Bankruptcy Trustees.  There was no signage outside the building whatsover for Debt Relief Canada Inc.–despite the fact that 406 Oxford Street East, London, Ontario, is listed on the firm’s website as the location for its London office.

 

 

Based upon a telephone call made last week to Farber’s London office located at 406 Oxford Street East, London, Ontario, it would appear that Rebecca Schaafsma, Insolvency Counsellor, Debt Relief Canada Inc., works out of Farber’s office located at 406 Oxford Street East in London, Ontario.

 

Debt Relief Canada Inc. would appear to be misrepresenting its Burlington office location

Debt Relief Canada Inc.’s website indicates that it has an office in Burlington, Ontario, and the office address is listed as 460 Brant Street, with no suite number provided.  I found it odd that Debt Relief Canada Inc. would go to the trouble of having on its website a photograph of the building where its Burlington office is located without including a reference to the firm’s suite number in the building.

460 Brant St Burlington ON

This is a recent photo of the tenant directory found in the lobby at 460 Brant Street, Burlington, Ontario.  Nowhere on this directory is there a listing for an office for Debt Relief Canada Inc.–despite the fact that the firm’s website claims that the firm has an office in this building.

 

 

After visiting 460 Brant Street in Burlington, Ontario, in person and looking at the building directory in the lobby I soon discovered why Debt Relief Canada Inc. might not want to list a suite number for its Burlington office.  It would appear that Debt Relief Canada Inc. does not have an office at 460 Brant Street in Burlington despite the information contained on its website.  Is this some kind of error or an attempt to mislead the public?

A few days ago I learned that someone phoned the main number for the Burlington office for Farber & Partners Inc., Bankruptcy Trustees, informing them that they had an appointment later this month with Rebecca Schaafsma and that they wanted directions to get to the office. The receptionist matter-of-factly provided the caller with driving instructions to their office, as well as the address to Farber’s Burlington office which she confirmed was located at 3390 South Service Road, Suite 204.

 

Is Debt Relief Canada Inc. being dishonest about the address for its Markham office?

According to Debt Relief Canada’s website the firm has a Markham office located at 3100 Steeles Avenue East.

 

Tenant Directory 3100 Steeles Avenue East

This is a recent photograph of the tenant directory found in the lobby at 3100 Steeles Avenue East in Markham, Ontario.  There is no listing for an office for Debt Relief Canada Inc. despite the fact that the firm’s website claims to have an office in this building.

 

Is Debt Relief Canada Inc. being dishonest about the address for its Mississauga office?

Debt Relief Canada Inc.’s website claims that the firm has an office located at 50 Burnhamthorpe Road West, Mississauga, Ontario.  I recently attended at the is address and there was no listing whatsoever in the building lobby for Debt Relief Canada Inc. in this building.

 

 

Is Rebecca Schaafsma acting as an exclusive marketing representative for Farber & Partners?

In September of this year my firm arranged to send two undercover operatives–armed with a hidden camera–to meet with Rebecca Schaafsma of Debt Relief Canada Inc. posing as consumers struggling with unsecured consumer debt. Both of these meetings took place at 30 Duke Street West, Suite 507, Kitchener, Ontario.

During both of these initial meetings Rebecca Schaafsma recommended that the undercover operatives do a consumer proposal.  She also indicated that if our undercover operatives chose to proceed with a consumer proposal then she would arrange for them to do a consumer proposal with a bankruptcty trustee from Farber & Partners, Bankruptcy Trustees.

 

Contact our office if you have any information which you believe involves an inappropriate relationship between a bankruptcy trustee and a debt consultant

I would invite you to call me at (519) 827-5513 or (866) 996-9941 if you have any information that you believe involves an inappropriate relationship between a debt consultant and a bankruptcy trustee.

 

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You are welcome to contact me if you have any information about a questionable relationship between a debt consultant and one or more bankruptcy trustees.