Startup CEO agrees to $560K settlement to make long list of fraud allegations go away

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Bob Ambrogi, who writes a terrific blog about technology and the law, today has posted remarkable details of a lawsuit settlement involving the head of a legal startup and a couple who allege he scammed them out of hundreds of thousands of dollars through, among other means, falsely claiming to be a lawyer, forging legal documents, fabricating court cases and even conjuring up a non-existent judge. (Update below.)

The executive, Derek Bluford – CEO of California Legal Pros and QuickLegal – says in the settlement document that he “does not admit that any of the allegations set forth in the complaint are true or valid.” Ambrogi made that point twice so I will, too. Bluford did agree to pay the plaintiffs, Changming Liu and Aimei Wei, $559,330. The couple had enlisted the services of Bluford and California Legal Pros in 2014 to help them evict a tenant.    

Among the allegations the plaintiffs made against Bluford:  

  • He falsely represented that the tenant had filed a claim for personal injury against the plaintiffs and then took $130,000 from the plaintiffs to settle the non-existent claim.
  • He falsely represented that the county had fined plaintiffs $10,500 for a mold problem and took that money from them supposedly to pay the non-existent fine.
  • He took $25,000 from the plaintiffs to remediate the supposed mold damage to their property and then took another $26,000 for the mold repair, saying the initial $25,000 was not enough.
  • He took $244,000 from the plaintiffs plus $27,642 in “attorney fees” by forging court papers to make it look as though they owed fines to the city and county governments with regard to the mold in their property.

That’s just half of the sampling Ambrogi plucked from the now-settled complaint. You should read his entire post.

I am not a lawyer, of course, though two questions do occur to me:

Is there a criminal investigation under way?

And shouldn’t Bluford at least be fake disbarred?

[MORE: For sale: The nuclear fallout bunker of your dreams]

(UPDATE: Bluford has kinda-sorta responded to Ambrogi and claims it was an employee impersonating him that perpetrated all of the dirty deeds. The lawyer Bluford said would vouch for him -- the one who represented the victims -- did no such thing.)

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