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Class Calls ‘Debt Reduction’ Group Predators

ST. LOUIS (CN) - Florida-based Vortex Debt Group preys on distressed borrowers by offering but failing to provide "debt reduction assistance," a class action claims in Federal Court. Vortex pushes its services on the radio, TV and Internet and charges up-front and monthly fees with unconscionable terms and misrepresentations, the class claims.

Named plaintiff Terry Rudd says a Vortex representative told him the company could resolve his debts within 48 months and told Rudd to use a Debt Negotiation Agreement on Vortex's website.

"The Vortex representative then analyzed the agreement for plaintiff and pretended to explain the entire agreement," the complaint states. "The Vortex representative hid from plaintiff the fact that the agreement purported to contain a waiver of plaintiff's right to sue Vortex, an arbitration provision, a waiver of plaintiff's right to participate in a class action lawsuit against Vortex, a waiver of plaintiff's right to participate in a class action arbitration against Vortex, a waiver of plaintiff's right to a trial by jury, and a waiver of plaintiff's right to pursue any action against Vortex whatsoever unless plaintiff pursued the action in Florida."

Rudd also claims Vortex practices law without a license. He says the agreement allows Vortex to collect thousands of dollars in monthly fees, including a "debt settlement fee" whether Vortex performs any debt reduction services or not.

The class consists of all Missourians who have done business with Vortex within the past 2 years. It seeks actual damages and $7 million in punitive damages for violations of Missouri's Merchandising Practices Act. It is represented by James Eason with Eason & Van Leunen.

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