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Co-owner of Thomas Towing in California died Dec. 3
Need to change old laws to reflect increased dangers
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MX-13 to be offered with two new ratings for 2019
Company cited for unfair and deceptive trade practices
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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in TowingDecember 12 - December 18, 2018
Marlin Financial is being sued by the Florida Attorney General’s office for what it calls unfair and deceptive trade practices by selling an incorrectly marketed debt cancellation product to consumers. Photo – Tampa Bay Times.

Florida AG Sues Marlin Financial

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi's office is suing online auto lender Marlin Financial for what it says are unfair and deceptive trade practices.

In a civil lawsuit filed in late November, the state's legal arm alleged that an add-on the lender said was optional "was in fact a mandatory feature of loans made to consumers." That add-on, known as a "debt cancellation product," was marketed to customers as an insurance-like product that would wipe out a customer's remaining debt if their car was totaled. Instead it dramatically increased the cost of the loans.

Representatives for the Miami-based lender had not returned a request for comment at press time.

The AG considers the debt cancellation product mandatory, the lawsuit says, because of the conditions a customer had to meet to decline it and still take out a loan. A customer would need to have pre-paid, full comprehensive and collision auto insurance with a deductible of no more than $250 for the lender to agree to waive debt cancellation.

Because the product is a condition of taking out a loan with Marlin, the company should have included the fee for it in its calculation of the loan's interest rate, which Marlin did not, the lawsuit says. Marlin also charged interest on the debt cancellation "as if it were part of the financing agreement."

This led to some customers' cars being improperly repossessed and later sold, the lawsuit says, as customers defaulted when they could not make their high payments.

The attorney general is asking for a $10,000 penalty for every unfair and deceptive trade practices act, and $15,000 for instances that affected senior citizens.


Woman Gets One Year[b] for Stealing $400K

A Billings, Montana, woman was sentenced to a year in federal prison for stealing nearly $400,000 from her former employer.

Jennifer Anne Thaw was sentenced on four counts of wire fraud for a term of 12 months and one day in U.S. District Court in Billings on Friday. Judge Susan Watters also ordered Thaw to serve three years on probation after she is released from prison. She is to pay $392,930.71 in restitution.

Over the course of seven years, Thaw stole $390,000 from her former employer, repossession company J&S Recovery. While overseeing accounts receivable and accounts payable, Thaw had transferred money into her personal Wells Fargo checking account, court documents state.

Thaw spoke briefly before being sentenced, apologizing directly to her former employers, who were in the courtroom, and to her friends and family. Through tears, she said she felt ashamed.


KAR Consolidates [b]Management Team

KAR Auction Services has announced additional details with regard to its presence in the repossession and recovery industry.

According to a news release, KAR announced a consolidated management team for its software as a service businesses Recovery Database Network and recently acquired Reno, Nevada-based Clearplan. Under the new management structure, all RDN and Clearplan employees will report to Clearplan president Justin Zane as part of KAR's digital services group of companies.

KAR explained the consolidation will enable the development and delivery of tools with increased convenience, accuracy and transparency for its asset recovery customers and auto finance companies.

"KAR's acquisition of market leader Clearplan aligns with our goal to further develop the data-driven, user-friendly communications platform for customers in the repo industry," said Peter Kelly, KAR's president of digital services.

KAR also indicated Michael Briggs will continue to lead CarsArrive Network as president and chief executive officer as it was a position he held in tandem with leading RDN.


Repo Man Shoots Attacker

A 53-year-old Detroit, Michigan, man was left in critical condition and a 30-year-old man was arrested on the city's west side following a confrontation between the two regarding a vehicle the younger man was trying to repossess Nov. 27, police said.

Police say the 30-year-old was repossessing a vehicle that was parked in the back of the property when the older man attacked him with a knife.

The 30-year-old, who has a license to carry a concealed handgun, pulled out a gun and shot the 53-year-old in the chest, police said.

Police arrested the 30-year-old at the scene and transported him to the Detroit Detention Center, an official said.


Karen Engle Joins CARS

Consolidated Asset Recovery Systems announced that Karen Engle has joined as vice president of operations. In this role, she will manage operations for the company's national forwarding business and be responsible for call center operations including the repossession, remarketing and vendor services departments.

"I am honored to be a part of the executive team at Consolidated," said Engle. "As a customer I saw first-hand how impactful their servicing model and technology could be."

"Karen is a key player in our servicing strategy," said Steve Norwood, president/CEO of Consolidated Asset Recovery Systems. "We have seen success and double-digit growth for the past several years by providing the best performance metrics in the industry. Karen brings over 20 years of experience managing collection operations will help us continue to provide superior results while building out a world class organization."


Owner 'Unlawfully Repossessed' [b]Vehicle, Faces Charges

Spartanburg County, South Carolina, deputies arrested a repo company owner after responding to an auto theft call Nov. 18.

Christopher Michael Cole Jr., 43, has been charged with possession of a stolen vehicle between $2,000-$10,000 and malicious injury to property after unlawfully repossessing a vehicle, according to the sheriff's office.

The victims came home at about 10 p.m. to find their fence had been "rammed into" and their blue 2009 Nissan was missing, according to the incident.

One of the victims told deputies that she had not given anyone permission to use her car and that her boyfriend, Shannon Black, had the title, according to the incident report.

She told deputies that she believed Cole had unlawfully repossessed her vehicle, according to the incident report. The victim told deputies that her boyfriend was one of Cole's employees and had been in an on-going feud with Cole about the way he was doing business.

Deputies then contacted Cole, according to the incident report. Cole told deputies that he went to their residence and took the vehicle. Cole also told deputies that the victims had stolen the vehicle and created a fake title.

According to the incident report, deputies told Cole that he needed to bring the car back to the residence or he could face charges. Cole then reportedly hung up on the deputy, the incident report said.

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