Consulting Group Called a Scam on Elderly

     MARTINEZ, Calif. (CN) – A self-described consulting group preys on elders in a “patently unlawful” estate-planning scam, a married couple claim in a class action in Contra Costa County Superior Court.
     Dennis and Helen Clements, an “extremely unsophisticated elderly couple” who were “duped into paying an unlawful fee for unlawful services,” claim that Barron Ross Corporation deceptively and predatorily sells estate planning services to elders in violation of the California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act.
     The Clements say Barron Ross, of San Ramon, is not authorized “to charge plaintiffs and other California elders hefty sums for what are patently unlawful services.”
     The company tells its targets the estate planning will be provided by James Walker, an attorney who was disbarred in 2010, according to the April 18 lawsuit.
     Walker is not a party to the lawsuit. The second defendant is Edwin D. Griffin, of San Leandro, who “is or has been president and CEO of Barron Ross” and was its registered agent, according to the complaint.
     Barron Ross gets its clients from a “sucker list” provided by Walker, who compiled the list of people who responded to a radio ad for Walker’s estate planning services, the Clements say. They say they responded to the ad and dealt with Walker in 1999.
     Fifteen years later, they say, a Barron Ross representative cold-called them, and persuaded them that unless they took the estate planning steps she recommended, they could lose everything to Medi-Cal, California’s Medicaid program.
     The Clements say they signed a Barron Ross marketing agreement and paid $10,800 because they were “successfully scared” into thinking that “the government would take everything they had, including their home, if they needed to go into a nursing home.”
     Too late, they say, they realized that Barron Ross’s marketing agreements “are simply vehicles which use distortion and misrepresentation of Medi-Cal to justify an unconscionable fee.”
     To top it off, the couple say, Barron Ross refused to refund their money, and the marketing agreements’ arbitration clause contains an unlawful damage limitation by which Barron Ross representatives “actively attempt to foreclose their elderly victims’ efforts to get justice.”
     The company’s long game is to gain access to their targets’ financial information and then dispatch affiliates to the targets’ homes to sell them “inappropriate insurance products,” according to the complaint.” The affiliates then share the commissions with Barron Ross, the Clements say.
     They seek an injunction, restitution, actual and exemplary damages and attorneys’ fees.
     They are represented by Kimberly Swierenga, with Majors & Fox in San Diego.
     Barron Ross did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment Wednesday afternoon.

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