A lawsuit filed by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office alleges that Northern Leasing Systems Inc., along with several affiliated companies and individuals, trapped small businesses into endless lease agreements for overpriced credit card processing equipment and then abused the court process by suing to collect on those leases regardless of whether the debt is fraudulent.The lawsuit seeks to vacate default judgments obtained by New York-based Northern Leasing against consumers, many of whom were not aware that they had been sued by Northern Leasing until learning about a default judgment when they checked their credit reports. The lawsuit also seeks a permanent injunction prohibiting Northern Leasing, its related entities and its owners and officers from continuing the allegedly deceptive business practices. The lawsuit asks that Northern Leasing pay restitution to consumers, dissolve Northern Leasing Systems and force Northern Leasing to notify all three national credit reporting agencies that the default judgments have been vacated and should be removed from consumers’ credit reports. Schneiderman earlier reached a multimillion-dollar agreement with Northern Leasing in 2013 for similar deceptive practices for allegedly siphoning more than $3.6 million in unauthorized fees from the bank accounts of nearly 110,000 former customers without warning and up to eleven years after their leases had expired. The affiliated companies named in the lawsuit include: Lease Finance Group LLC, MBF Leasing LLC, Pushpin Holdings LLC and others collectively referred to as "Northern Leasing”. Principal Jay Cohen, law firm Joseph I. Sussman P.C., and other individuals involved in Northern Leasing’s operations also are named in the legal action."Small business owners - many of whom are immigrants, elderly or veterans - are the cornerstone of the economy and deserve to be treated honestly and fairly,” Schneiderman said. "We allege that Northern Leasingnot only deceived consumers, but used the New York court system to perpetrate their harassing, fraudulent and deceptive debt collection practices. We will not allow companies to hold small businesses for ransom by using lies and forgery."According to Schneiderman’s office, the credit card equipment leased to consumers by Northern Leasing is valued at a few hundred dollars when new, yet over the course of a Northern Leasing lease consumers pay thousands of dollars for the equipment. The lease agreements are printed in tiny typeface, require any lawsuit under the lease to be brought in New York regardless of where the consumer lives and requires the consumer to pay Northern Leasing’s attorney fees in the event the lawsuit is found meritless.It is charged that once a consumer is trapped in a Northern Leasing lease agreement, Northern Leasing refuses to cancel the lease - even if the equipment never worked or if the consumer’s signature was forged.  Also, based on small print in the contracts, Northern Leasing continues to deduct lease payments from consumers’ bank accounts for months or years after the lease’s initial term.When a consumer stops making lease payments, it is alleged that Northern Leasing - through its own employees and the Sussman law firm, then begins a campaign of "harassing phone calls and letters threatening” to sue. The Sussman law firm then begins collection actions in New York Civil Court, knowing that many of the debts are not collectable and that the cost of travelling to New York and hiring a lawyer is prohibitive for many out-of-state consumers, according to Schneiderman’s office.Northern Leasing and its related entities filed more than 30,000 collection actions between 2010 and 2015 in NYC Civil Court. The company also has obtained more than 19,000 default judgments against individual consumers since 2010 in NYC Civil Court, often because the consumer either was not aware of the lawsuit or could not appear in court. 


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