Relief From Fraudulent Contracts Now Tops $20 Million
LAWFUEL – Legal News Network – Attorney General Eliot Spitzer today announced settlements with seven additional financial institutions
in connection with a widespread telecommunications fraud involving NorVergence, Inc., a bankrupt New Jersey-based telecommunications company.
Under the terms of the newly announced agreements, Popular Leasing USA, Inc.; Celtic Bank Corporation; Dolphin Capital Corp.; Liberty Bank Leasing; National City Commercial Capital
Corporation, formerly known as (f/k/a); Information Leasing Corporation; Alfa Financial Corporation d/b/a OFC Capital; and Partners Equity Capital Company LLC d/b/a Commerce Commercial Leasing,
LLC will forgive over $3.5 million in payments due from 159 New York customers, who signed long-term contracts with NorVergence. Pursuant to the agreements, six of the leasing companies have offered customers 87.5% to 90% forgiveness of their balances as of July 15, 2004 under the
NorVergence Equipment Rental Agreements, while Popular Leasing USA, Inc. offered customers 80% to 100% forgiveness, based on when they signed their contracts.
“I would like to commend these financial institutions for offering relief to those small business owners who were duped by NorVergence’s false promise of savings,” said Spitzer.
Thirteen other financial institutions previously reached agreements with the Attorney General’s office regarding leases they acquired from NorVergence. Including the settlements announced today, a total
of 854 NorVergence customers from New York have received over $20 million in relief.
The chart below outlines the terms of the new settlements:
LEASING COMPANY TOTAL DOLLARS
Popular Leasing USA, Inc. $1,519,545 80%- 100%
Partners Equity Capital Company, LLC
d/b/a Commerce Commercial Leasing, LLC
87.5 – 90%
Liberty Bank Leasing $53,322 87.5 – 90%
Celtic Bank Corporation $35,498 87.5 – 90%
Alfa Financial Corporation
d/b/a OFC Capital
$411,273 87.5 – 90%
National City Commercial Capital Corporation, f/k/a Information Leasing Corporation
$817,700 87.5 – 90%
Dolphin Capital Corp. $129,788 87.5 – 90%
Under the settlement agreements, the financial institutions also are forgiving any late fees, penalties and property insurance charges imposed after termination of contracted services, and are crediting any
payments made after service was terminated. The financial institutions will issue refunds to customers where payments exceeded amounts due under the settlements and will terminate all litigation and
withdraw any adverse credit reports against former NorVergence customers who elect to participate in the settlements. Popular Leasing USA, Inc. will also offer substantially similar settlement terms to
customers who have already settled on less favorable terms.
Notices regarding potential legal actions have also been previously sent by the Attorney General to Thomas Salzano and Peter Salzano, as officers of NorVergence, which was declared bankrupt in July
NorVergence began aggressively marketing its telecommunications products in 2002, promising potential customers savings of up to 60 percent. It attributed these savings to a proprietary “Matrix
box,” which the company claimed would provide customers with wireless, toll-free telephone service and high-speed internet connection, all for a fixed monthly fee. The equipment accomplished none of
NorVergence’s sales force was trained to apply deceptive and high pressure sales tactics in recruiting prospective customers, who consisted largely of small businesses, not-for-profits and religious
institutions. Nationally, the company secured approximately 11,000 customers including approximately 1,000 New Yorkers.
The company’s customers typically signed five-year contracts, which the company then sold at a discount to third-party financial institutions. The financial institutions, in turn, billed customers under
the original contract terms. These multi-year commitments purported to obligate customers to pay as much as $340,000 for the Matrix box, even though the device was worth no more than $1,500.
When a federal bankruptcy court declared NorVergence bankrupt in July 2004, customers were left without telecommunications services and had to purchase alternative service on a per call basis. Yet
the financial institutions continued to bill customers, and in some instances sued to collect under the agreements.
Consumers wishing to file a complaint pertaining to a NorVergence telecommunications contract may contact the Attorney General’s toll-free consumer helpline (800) 771-7755, or visit his website at
This matter is being handled by Assistant Attorneys General Joy Feigenbaum, Shahla F. Ali, and Keith
Gordon, under the direction of Thomas Conway, Chief of the Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau, and Terryl Brown Clemons, Assistant Deputy Attorney General for the Division of Public Advocacy.