Florida Attorney General sues Fort Lauderdale debt management companies

WSVN — A debt management company 7News first warned about earlier this year is now being sued by the State of Florida. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is back on this case.

For months, Bobby Blackmon has fought off complaints from customers.

Carmel Cafiero: "Hi, Carmel Cafiero, Channel 7."

And questions from 7News.

Carmel Cafiero: "What’s going on?"

Bobby Blackmon: "We’ve actually sent refunds to all the clients."

Now, a bigger battle for Blackmon:  a lawsuit filed by Florida’s Attorney General. He and his two debt management companies, Financial Help Services and Nation Wide Consumer Debt Relief are being sued for deceptive practices.

The Attorney General’s office tells 7News it has received complaints from 470 customers in 48 states involving $539,000. Victims claim creditors were paid late or not at all, victims like Laura Jorgensen.

Laura Jorgensen: "My credit is worse than ever."

And Wendy Windsor.

Wendy Windsor: "The creditors were calling every day and what happened as a result of the missed payments for two months. All the interest rates went up."

Carmel Cafiero: "I’m looking for Mr. Blackmon."

It was January when 7News first questioned Blackmon’s business practices. At the time, he blamed a flood in the Fort Lauderdale office for disrupting the business. We reported Florida’s Attorney General was investigating, but Blackmon later challenged that.

Bobby Blackmon: "When you guys first reported and stated that there was this huge investigation, there was no investigation with the Attorney General’s Office."

The lawsuit proves otherwise. In part it claims, "Despite collecting monthly payments from consumers, defendants consistently fail to pay consumers’ creditors and, at times, have failed to even negotiate a repayment plan for their clients."

Bobby Blackmon: "We’re very close to getting every single one of them resolved."

Back in May, Blackmon insisted he was handling all complaints.

Carmel Cafiero: "You didn’t take advantage of these people?"

Bobby Blackmon: "Absolutely not. Absolutely not. Anybody that knows me, that’s not the — I wouldn’t be here if that was the case. You know, I would have closed up shop."

But he’s closed up now. The state shut him down for the time being. His attorney says Bobby Blackmon is cooperating with authorities. 

Carmel Cafiero, 7News.         

IF YOU HAVE A STORY FOR CARMEL TO INVESTIGATE:

Miami-Dade: 305-627-CLUE
Broward: 954-921-CLUE
E-mail: clue@wsvn.com
You can also send a tweet to @carmelonthecase