(WSVN) - It’s something you hope never happens. A family member or close friend calls you to bail them out of jail. If it’s a minor offense, the bail is low and many people pay cash. It should be easy to get that money back, but one South Florida mother could not, and so she called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
When you walk into Nordia Paul’s home, one word comes to mind: colorful.
Nordia Paul, wants money back: “I love colors. I am a very colorful person. Red is one of my more vibrant colors.”
She loves the color red, but she was seeing red last Mother’s Day.
Nordia Paul: “That was my Mother’s Day gift. I said, ‘Oh, my God.'”
Nordia got a call from her daughter that she had been arrested for possessing a small amount of marijuana and a BB gun in the car. She needed Nordia to get her out of jail.
Nordia Paul: “This was my first time dealing with anything like this, so first I had to Google where she is at.”
Nobody in Nordia’s family had ever been in trouble with the law. She went to the Broward County Jail and paid cash to bail her daughter out.
Nordia Paul: “I paid the $1,000.”
When Nordia posted the bond, she was given this document that said the county would refund her money within 48 hours after she presented the paperwork.
After her daughter’s charges were resolved in August, Nordia got a letter like this in the mail.
Nordia Paul: “I am getting a $1,000 back, sign this letter from Tri-State, a bond refund. I signed it.”
Nordia thought it was an agency that worked for Broward County, which makes sense since the document mentions the Sheriff of Broward County and the State of Florida.
But in tiny print, it says it’s a private agency that will charge a processing fee from five percent to 29 percent — except they never sent the money to Nordia.
Nordia Paul: “‘Oh, yes, you’ll have your check by Thanksgiving.’ Never got my check.”
Nordia kept calling the company — and kept getting nowhere.
Nordia Paul: “And he was telling me, ‘Oh, I am not going to steal your money. I’ll call you back in three hours.’ That never happened.”
Nordia then headed to the county jail, where a woman told her they had several complaints from people not getting their bail money returned. She says she left feeling annoyed.
Nordia Paul: “And the reason why I am so annoyed is because you think things like this can’t happen to you, but it happens.”
Well, Howard, Nordia can’t get her $1,000 bond money back. Is she entitled to it?
Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “Absolutely entitled to her money, and if she goes through the Sheriff’s Department, she gets nearly all of her money back. But she went with what’s called a recovery service, which many people assume is the county, but they are not. And if you do not read the fine print, they can take a large portion of your money.”
I contacted Tri-State to ask why Nordia did not have her money. I was told there was an erroneous paperwork discrepancy. They added, their fees were disclosed in English and Spanish.
The Broward Sheriff’s Office told me Nordia was not alone. Since September, they have had 12 complaints about Tri-State.
Finally Nordia got a check from Tri-State for $710. They had charged her $290 or a 29 percent processing fee. When I complained about the delays, they sent her another check for $50, meaning she got $760 of her $1,000 back.
Nordia Paul: “It taught me a lesson, that you really cannot trust anyone when it comes to your money.”
Nordia, now sporting a colorful bright red head of hair, is happy after calling Help Me Howard.
Nordia Paul: “After watching them all these years, they were the first one I thought about. If nobody else can help me, Help Me Howard will help me.”
Glad we could help, and the Broward Sheriff’s Office told us, if you pay a cash bond, come get it back from them when the case is resolved. That way you don’t have to pay a company 29 percent of it. Of course, hopefully, you’ll never have to bail anyone out of jail.
Got a problem you want to bail on? Wanna bond with someone who can unlock a solution? Contact us. We might not be colorful, but we have high interest in helping you.
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