Monday, February 15, 2016

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman - $550 Million For New York, Fighting Public Corruption & More

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Continuing To Rebuild New York After The Housing Crisis

The Attorney General secured another victory in his efforts to help New Yorkers rebuild in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis: a $3.2 billion settlement with Morgan Stanley. The agreement, negotiated by the joint state federal Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Working Group co-chaired by Attorney General Schneiderman, brings $550 million to New York. The funds are earmarked to help build affordable housing, combat the proliferation of zombie homes and provide loan reductions to families facing foreclosure. The settlement resolves allegations that Morgan Stanley misrepresented the quality of the mortgage loans it securitized and sold to investors, and that it sold loans with material defects to investors. This settlement delivers resources to the families and communities all across the state that need them the most.

Enforcing Wage Theft Laws

Arthur Anyah, the owner of a Peekskill-based Home Health Care, has been arrested for allegedly failing to pay 52 workers more than $110,000 in wages for more than two years. The aides, who provided services to clients such as bathing, preparing food, and assisting with toileting, were allegedly induced to keep working after Anyah and the company stated or implied that they would eventually get paid. The Attorney General has returned more than $21 million in restitution and damages to workers subjected to wage theft since he took office, and will continue to take aggressive action against those who think they can skirt the law and take advantage of hard working New Yorkers.

Stopping Fraudsters From Preying On New Yorkers

MoneyGram Payment Systems is revamping and improving its anti-fraud measures thanks to a multi-state settlement reached with the Attorney General and 48 other states. The settlement follows complaints from consumers who used MoneyGram’s wire transfer service to send money to third parties that were seeking to defraud consumers. As part of the agreement, MoneyGram has agreed to maintain and continue to improve a comprehensive and robust anti-fraud program designed to help detect and prevent consumers from suffering financial losses as a result of fraud-induced wire transfers. Furthermore, the company will pay a total of 13 million dollars to the states to fund a nationwide consumer restitution program and for the states’ costs and fees.

Cracking Down On False Advertisements Online

The Attorney General announced settlements with four companies for their role in posting fraudulent content on the internet. One company called Machinima, which distributes video content related to video games on YouTube, allegedly paid gaming experts to endorse several games the company was promoting online. Premier Retail Group, a chain of cosmetic and beauty stores that offer services for a certain skin treatment brand, solicited reviewers through advertisements posted on Craigslist to write positive reviews in exchange for samples and other forms of compensation. Similar practices were uncovered following an investigation into ESIOH Marketing, which solicited writers over Craigslist to write over 200 fake reviews of its small business clients. Finally, a spa company in New York paid a businessman hundreds to post fake positive reviews on Yelp for their services. Consumers rely on reviews and other endorsements on the Internet to inform themselves in making daily purchasing decisions, and deserve honesty and transparency in the reviews and endorsements they read online.

Rooting Out Public Corruption in Monroe County

The fourth and final defendant involved in a Monroe County bid-rigging scheme has pleaded guilty. It is expected that that Daniel Lynch will be sentenced to two-and-one-third to seven years in state prison and be required to pay approximately $600,000 in restitution and forfeiture. Lynch and co-conspirators were charged in November 2013 with a scheme to rig the bidding process for a number of multi-million dollar public works contracts in Monroe County.  This guilty plea demonstrates that the Attorney General is committed to ensuring that taxpayer funds are being spent appropriately. Those who violate the public's trust will held accountable.

Providing Consumer Relief Under Lemon Laws

The Attorney General announced that over $12 million has been recovered by New Yorkers since 2011 thanks to Lemon laws, which provide a legal remedy for consumers who have repair or warranty issues with new or used cars. The Attorney General’s Lemon Law arbitration program provides both consumers and the auto industry a fair and effective means to resolve disputes. In 2015 alone, $2.5 million was awarded to dozens of consumers. To apply for arbitration, visit here and submit your complaint. 

Protecting New York’s Workers’ Compensation Fund

The Attorney General, working with the State Inspector General, announced the sentencing of a former Department of Transportation employee for fraudulently obtaining nearly $10,000 in Workers’ Compensation Benefits over a period of approximately eight months. It was alleged that Corey Cragnolin claimed he suffered an injury while at work, and claimed that he was not working in any capacity while accepting the benefits. Yet between the period of September 2013 to May 2014, Cragnolin was running his own home improvement and contracting business, which included repairing roofs, cleaning and repairing chimneys, cleaning and repairing gutters, among other projects. Cragnolin must now repay nearly $10,000 as part of his sentencing. 
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