A Debt-Collection Machine That’s Chewing Up Small Businesses Across America (#GotBitcoin)
Look out, the stranger on the phone warned. They’re coming for you. A Debt-Collection Machine That’s Chewing Up Small Businesses Across America (#GotBitcoin)
The caller had Janelle Duncan’s attention. Perpetually peppy at 53, with sparkly jewelry and a glittery manicure, Duncan was running a struggling Florida real estate agency with her husband, Doug. She began each day in prayer, a vanilla latte in her hand and her Maltese Shih Tzu, Coco, on her lap, asking God for business to pick up. She’d answered the phone that Friday morning in January hoping it would be a new client looking for a home in the Tampa suburbs.
The man identified himself as a debt counselor. He described a bizarre legal proceeding that he said was targeting Duncan without her knowledge. A lender called ABC had filed a court judgment against her in the state of New York and was planning to seize her possessions. “I’m not sure if they already froze your bank accounts, but they are RIGHT NOW moving to do just that,” he’d written in an email earlier that day. He described the lender as “EXTREMLY AGGRESSIVE.” Her only hope, the man said, was to pull all her money out of the bank immediately.
His story sounded fishy to the Duncans. They had borrowed $36,762 from a company called ABC Merchant Solutions LLC, but as far as they knew they were paying the money back on schedule. Doug dialed his contact there and was assured all was well. They checked with a lawyer; he was skeptical, too. What kind of legal system would allow all that to happen 1,000 miles away without notice or a hearing? They shrugged off the warning as a scam.
But the caller was who he said he was, and everything he predicted came true. The following Monday, Doug logged in at the office to discover he no longer had access to his bank accounts. A few days on, $52,886.93 disappeared from one of them. The loss set off a chain of events that culminated a month later in financial ruin. Not long after her agency went bankrupt, Janelle collapsed and was rushed to the hospital, vomiting bile.
As the Duncans soon learned, tens of thousands of contractors, florists, and other small-business owners nationwide were being chewed up by the same legal process. Behind it all was a group of financiers who lend money at interest rates higher than those once demanded by Mafia loan sharks. Rather than breaking legs, these lenders have co-opted New York’s court system and turned it into a high-speed debt-collection machine. Government officials enable the whole scheme. A few are even getting rich doing it.
“Somebody Just Comes In And Rips Everything Out. It’s Cannibalized Our Whole Life”
The lenders’ weapon of choice is an arcane legal document called a confession of judgment. Before borrowers get a loan, they have to sign a statement giving up their right to defend themselves if the lender takes them to court. It’s like an arbitration agreement, except the borrower always loses. Armed with a confession, a lender can, without proof, accuse borrowers of not paying and legally seize their assets before they know what’s happened. Not surprisingly, some lenders have abused this power. In dozens of interviews and court pleadings, borrowers describe lenders who’ve forged documents, lied about how much they were owed, or fabricated defaults out of thin air.
“Somebody just comes in and rips everything out,” Doug said one evening in August, pulling up a stool at a Starbucks and recounting the events that killed the Duncans’ business. After a long day spent selling houses for another company, the name tag pinned to his shirt had flipped upside down like a distress signal. “It’s cannibalized our whole life.”
Confessions of judgment have been part of English common law since the Middle Ages, intended as a way to enforce debts without the fuss and expense of trial. Concerns about their potential abuse are almost as old. In Charles Dickens’s 1837 novel The Pickwick Papers, a landlady who’s tricked into signing one ends up in debtors’ prison. Some U.S. states outlawed confessions in the middle of the 20th century, and federal regulators banned them for consumer loans in 1985. But New York still allows them for business loans.
For David Glass, they were the solution to a problem: People were stealing his money. Among the hustlers and con men who work the bottom rungs of Wall Street, Glass is a legend. Before he was 30, he’d inspired the stock-scam movie Boiler Room. Later busted by the FBI for insider trading, he avoided prison by recording incriminating tapes of his old colleagues. Even his enemies say Glass, who declined to comment for this story, is one of the sharpest operators they’ve ever dealt with.
In 2009, while still on probation, Glass and a friend named Isaac Stern started a company called Yellowstone Capital LLC. (ABC, the firm that wiped out the Duncans, is one of more than a dozen corporate names used by Yellowstone’s sales force.) Operating out of a red-walled office above an Irish bar in New York’s financial district, these salespeople phoned bodegas and pizzerias and pitched their owners on loans. The rates sometimes exceeded 400 percent a year, and daily payments were required, but borrowers were desperate.
In the aftermath of the financial crisis, banks were cutting back on lending just when small businesses most needed cash. Companies such as Yellowstone stepped in. They got around lending regulations by calling what they did “merchant cash advances,” not loans—a distinction judges recognize though there’s little practical difference. The same people who’d pushed stock swindles in the 1990s and subprime mortgages a decade later started talking small businesses into taking on costly debt. The profits were huge, and the industry grew. Last year it extended about $15 billion in credit, according to an estimate by investment bank Bryant Park Capital.
Yellowstone would hire anyone who could sell. A nightclub bouncer sat next to ultra-Orthodox Jews fresh out of religious school. The best brokers earned tens of thousands of dollars a month, former employees say; others slept at the office, fought, sold loose cigarettes, and stole from each other. A video posted on YouTube shows Glass firing an employee. “Get the f— out of my firm,” he yells. “Why are you still sitting there, fat ass? Get out of my company!” To keep the troops focused, management would stack a pile of cash on a table and hold a drawing for closers.
Glass’s problem was that some borrowers took Yellowstone’s money with no intention of paying it back. Lawsuits against deadbeats proved pointless, dragging on for months or years. Then a lawyer who worked for Yellowstone and other cash-advance outfits came up with the idea of requiring borrowers to sign confessions of judgment before receiving their loans. That way, at the first sign of trouble, lenders could start seizing assets, catching borrowers unawares.
In May 2012, Yellowstone became what appears to be the first company in the industry to file a confession in court. Others copied the trick. The innovation didn’t just make collections easier; it upended the industry’s economics. Now, even if a borrower defaulted, a company stood a chance of making a full recovery. By tacking on extra fees, it might even make more money, and faster, than if the borrower had never missed a payment. In some cases, the collections process became a profit engine.
Confessions aren’t enforceable in Florida, where the Duncans signed theirs. But New York’s courts are especially friendly to confessions and will accept them from anywhere, so lenders require customers to sign documents allowing them to file there. That’s turned the state into the industry’s collections department. Cash-advance companies have secured more than 25,000 judgments in New York since 2012, mostly in the past two years, according to data on more than 350 lenders compiled by Bloomberg Businessweek. Those judgments are worth an estimated $1.5 billion. The biggest filer by far, with a quarter of the cases: Yellowstone Capital.
The Duncans’ ordeal began in November 2017 with an unsolicited fax from a broker promising term loans of as much as $1 million at a cheap rate. The couple had owned their agency, a Re/Max franchise, for three years and now had 50 employees, but they still weren’t turning a profit. A planned entry into the mortgage business was proving more expensive than expected. Doing some quick math, Doug figured he could borrow $800,000 to fund the expansion, pay off some debt, and come out with a lower monthly payment. The spam fax felt like a gift from God.
On the phone, the broker said that to qualify for a big loan, Doug would first have to accept a smaller amount and make a few payments as a tryout. He sent over the paperwork for a cash advance, not a term loan—and included confessions for both Doug and Janelle to sign. Without talking to a lawyer, they did. Why not? Doug thought. They intended to pay the money back on time.
The advance turned out to be for $36,762, repaid in $800 daily debits from their bank account starting the day after they got the money. This would continue for about three months, until they’d repaid $59,960, amounting to an annualized interest rate of more than 350 percent. A small price to pay, Doug figured—soon he’d have all the money he needed in cheaper, longer-term debt. But when he followed up the next month to inquire about the status of the bigger loan, he got no response. The trouble started soon after.
A few hours after learning that their bank accounts had been frozen, the Duncans met with a local attorney, Jeffrey Dowd, in a law office squeezed between a nail salon and a transmission shop. Their bank, SunTrust, refused to tell them who was behind the freeze. It wasn’t clear why Yellowstone would target them. Their contact there was still pleading ignorance; the lender had collected its $800 payment as recently as the previous business day. Janelle was on the verge of tears.
A broad-shouldered man with a white goatee, Dowd handles everything from wills to lawsuits for small-business owners in the Tampa suburbs. After assuring the Duncans he’d get to the bottom of it, he logged on to his computer. He soon found a legal website showing that Yellowstone had won a judgment against the Duncans a few hours after Janelle received the warning phone call. The lender had gone to a court in the village of Goshen, 60 miles north of New York City.
“I hereby confess judgment,” read the documents Doug and Janelle had signed. Attached was a statement signed by the same person at Yellowstone who’d assured Doug everything was fine. It said the Duncans had stopped making payments.
That wasn’t true. The Duncans’ bank records show that Yellowstone had continued to get its daily $800 even after going to court. The company’s sworn statement also inflated the size of the couple’s debt. But by the time Dowd found the case, it was already over. A clerk had approved the judgment less than a day after Yellowstone’s lawyer asked for it. No proof was demanded, no judge was involved, and the Duncans didn’t have a chance to present their side in court.
Beau Phillips, a Yellowstone spokesman, said in an email to Businessweek that the company was within its rights, because the Duncans had blocked one payment and never made up for it. The Duncans respond that if a block had taken place, it must have been a computer error. Why stop paying and then resume the next day?
The court papers revealed the name of Yellowstone’s lawyer, and on a whim, Dowd searched for her other cases and found more than 1,500 results. The Duncans’ predicament was no aberration. “It was like a rabbit hole,” Dowd says. He dove in, clicking on case after case after case.
The Long Reach of a Rubber Stamp
In one month, a single clerk’s office in Orange County, New York, issued 176 judgments against small businesses in 38 states and Puerto Rico.
Goshen, N.Y., is a bucolic stop on the harness-racing circuit, just west of the Hudson River. Not far from the track, in the Orange County Clerk’s office, women with ID lanyards around their necks sit behind Plexiglas windows, processing pistol permits and recording deeds. One clerk prints out proposed judgments sent electronically by cash-advance companies and makes them official with three rubber stamps.
Orange is one of a handful of counties in upstate New York that together handle an outsize share of the nation’s cash-advance collections. Industry lawyers pick offices known to sign judgments quickly; there’s no need for the borrower or lender to have a connection to the area. In even smaller Ontario County, cash-advance filings make up about three-quarters of the civil caseload. No matter how abusive the confessions might be, clerks have no choice but to continue processing them, says Kelly Eskew, a deputy clerk in Orange County.
To obtain a judgment, a lawyer for a cash-advance company must send in the confession along with a sworn affidavit explaining the default and how much is still owed. The clerk accepts the statement as fact and enters a judgment without additional review. Once signed, this judgment is almost impossible to overturn. Borrowers rarely try. Few lawyers will take on a client whose money is already gone, and getting a ruling can take months—too long to save a desperate business. It’s a trap with no escape.
Clicking around a database of New York state court records, Dowd did find some cases in which cash-advance borrowers had sought to overturn judgments. They’d almost always failed. New York judges took the view that debtors waived their rights when they signed the papers. Dowd concluded it would probably cost the Duncans $5,000 to retain a lawyer to travel to Orange County. He advised them not to bother.
It’s possible that if the Duncans had tried to overturn the judgment, they would have discovered that the confessions they’d signed were later altered. The signed originals contain an apparent drafting error, failing to identify the Duncans’ company as subject to the judgment, a flaw that might have prevented Yellowstone from seizing their money. In the version filed in court, someone had replaced the first two pages of each confession with the mistake corrected. Asked by Businessweek about the discrepancy, Phillips didn’t provide an explanation.
The confession of judgment signed by the Duncans (top) and the one filed by Yellowstone in court
Borrowers have accused Yellowstone of forgery before. Just in the past year, a Georgia contractor presented evidence in court that a confession used against him was a complete fabrication, and a Maryland trucker complained to Yellowstone that a key term in his confession had been changed after the fact, as had happened with the Duncans. The company backed off from those borrowers but faced no further consequences. Phillips declined to comment on the accusations.
While Dowd didn’t challenge the ruling against the Duncans in court, he did think he could get SunTrust to help them. He told the bank that one of the couple’s accounts held funds that didn’t belong to them because it was used to collect rent on behalf of landlords. Dowd says a banker at the local branch wanted to help but was overruled by higher-ups. The account remained frozen. A spokesman for SunTrust declined to comment.
When Dowd finally reached Yellowstone’s lawyer, she referred him to a marshal who she said was handling the case. Dowd was confused. Why would a U.S. marshal be involved? His clients weren’t fugitives. He called the phone number, and somebody with a Russian accent answered.
The person on the phone wasn’t a federal official. Dowd had reached the Brooklyn office of Vadim Barbarovich, who holds the title of New York City marshal. He’d stumbled onto an arcane feature of the city’s government that’s become another powerful tool for cash-advance companies.
New York’s 35 marshals are government officers, appointed by the mayor, who collect private debts. They evict tenants and tow cars, city badges dangling from their necks. When they recover money, they get a fee of 5 percent. The office dates to Dutch colonial days, formed by a decree of Peter Stuyvesant’s council. Fees for the biggest jobs were initially set at a dozen stivers, less than one-tenth the price of a beaver pelt.
Barbarovich’s office is in the immigrant enclave of Sheepshead Bay. Before he was appointed in 2013, he’d tracked inventory at a Brooklyn hospital and volunteered as a Russian translator. He’s now the go-to marshal for the cash-advance business and has gotten rich in the process. Last year, city records show, he cleared $1.7 million after expenses.
As soon as Yellowstone had obtained its judgment against the Duncans, it had sent a copy to Barbarovich, who issued legal orders demanding money from Atlanta-based SunTrust and another bank in Alabama where the couple kept their personal funds. By law, New York marshals’ authority is limited to the city’s five boroughs, but a loophole vastly extends their reach: They’re allowed to demand out-of-state funds as long as the bank has an office in the city, as SunTrust does. A few big banks refuse to comply with the orders, but most just hand over their customers’ money.
SunTrust proved accommodating. Three days after freezing the Duncans’ accounts, it took $52,886.93 and mailed a check to Barbarovich, enough to satisfy the judgment plus the 5 percent marshal’s fee. Almost all of it was rent money the Duncans were holding for landlords, not their own funds. Barbarovich didn’t respond to questions about the couple’s case but said in an email that he follows the rules when issuing a demand for money. Phillips, the Yellowstone spokesman, said no one told the company that the money belonged to third parties until seven weeks after it was seized. Even then, Yellowstone refused to return it.
The Duncans scrambled to make up the shortfall. Doug got another, larger cash advance from a different company to keep afloat. The daily payments on that loan were too much for them to handle, though, and they were soon short of cash again. Sensing trouble, employees fled.
One evening, Janelle thought she was having a heart attack. Her pulse raced, her limbs went numb, and she grew nauseous. An ambulance rushed her to the hospital. Her heart was fine. Her insurance claim was denied.
Unlike the Duncans, most of the dozens of borrowers interviewed by Businessweek really did fall behind on their debt payments. Their experiences were no less wrenching. They spoke of divorce, of lost friendships, of unpaid medical bills.
“You can’t defend yourself,” says Richard Schilg, the owner of a human resources company in Ohio who borrowed hundreds of thousands of dollars with at least six advances. “As long as you still have a business, as long you have a personal checking account, they’re going to hound you. Your life is ruined by their contract.” Schilg says he always tried to honor his debts. But his access to money has been so restricted by cash-advance judgments that he’s had to sell furniture to buy food.
He’s one of many borrowers who’ve received nasty threats from debt collectors. “I will make this my personal business to f— you,” a Yellowstone executive named Steve Davis told Schilg on a voicemail heard by Businessweek. Davis texted another: “I will watch you crash and burn.” Asked about the messages, Davis says, “People defraud us. When that happens we have to do what’s best for us.”
Jerry Bush, who ran a plumbing business with his father in Roanoke, Va., signed confessions for at least six cash advances from companies including Yellowstone, taking one loan after another as his payments mounted to $18,000 a day. In January, Davis called him while he was accompanying his wife to a chemotherapy appointment and threatened him with the confession in a dispute over payment terms. Davis denies menacing Bush, but according to Bush’s account of their conversation, Davis said he would pursue Bush until his death and take all of his money, leaving nothing to pay for his wife’s treatment. Bush also says Davis then offered to send flowers to Bush’s wife.
“I Wake Up Every Morning Afraid What Else They Will Take. And Every Morning I Throw Up Blood”
In August, Bush closed his business, laid off his 20 employees, and stopped making payments on his loans. Yellowstone never filed its signed confession in court, but other lenders went after him over theirs. One sunny day that month, he walked to a wooded area near his home, swallowed a bottle of an oxycodone painkiller, and began streaming video to Facebook. To anyone who might have been watching, he explained that he’d taken out cash advances in a failed attempt to save his business. Now the lenders had seized his accounts, Bush said, his voice wavering. One had even grabbed his father’s retirement money.
“I signed ’em, I take the blame for it,” he said. “This will be my last video. I am taking this on me.” He asked his friends to take care of his family, then sobbed as he told his wife and teenage son he loved them.
Someone who saw the video alerted the police. They found Bush unconscious in the woods a few hours later—he credits them with saving his life. But the pressure from his confessions of judgment hasn’t relented. “I wake up every morning afraid what else they will take,” he says. “And every morning I throw up blood.”
Bush’s contracts with Yellowstone show that the company advanced him a total of about $250,000 and that he paid them back more than $600,000. Davis, who parted ways with Yellowstone in August, says he didn’t mistreat Bush or other borrowers and always followed the company’s protocols. “You know why people put the blame on me is because I’m successful,” he says. “It’s just haters.”
As for the Duncans, each morning at their house still begins with a prayer and a Bible verse. Their retirement savings evaporated with their agency, but they’ve been able to keep their house. They continue to believe God has a plan for every one of his children, but they’ve learned to trust some of those children less. “If we don’t have peace from God, and we live in outrage, it destroys us,” Janelle says. “So I’m choosing to have hope to start again, and we’re relying on the Lord to replace what the enemy has stolen and turn it around for good.”
By seizing their bank deposits, Yellowstone had managed to collect its money ahead of schedule and tack on $9,990 in extra legal fees, payable to a law firm in which it owns a stake. In about three months, the company and its affiliates almost doubled their money. At that rate of return, one dollar could be turned into 10 in less than a year.
Everyone else involved in the collection process got a slice, too. SunTrust got a $100 processing fee. Barbarovich’s office got approximately $2,700, with about $120 of that passed along to the city. The Orange County Clerk’s office got $41 for its rubber stamps. The New York state court system got $184.
To date, no state or federal regulator has tried to police the merchant-cash-advance industry. Its lawyers designed it to avoid scrutiny, sidestepping usury laws and state licensing requirements by keeping the word “loan” out of paperwork and describing the deals as cash advances against future revenue. And because the customers are technically businesses, not individuals, consumer protection laws don’t apply, either.
With regulators sidelined and lawmakers oblivious, Yellowstone and its peers keep growing. After Glass stepped back a couple of years ago from day-to-day operations—his criminal record was making it harder to find investors—Wall Street investment bankers arranged a $120 million line of credit to finance more advances. In 2016 the company moved from its grimy downtown Manhattan offices to a shiny building in Jersey City, pocketing $3 million in state tax incentives. On Instagram, a top salesman shows off flights on private jets, a diamond-encrusted watch, and a Lamborghini. Yellowstone advanced $553 million last year, its highest total ever.
In April, on the same day Janelle Duncan was selling the last of her office furniture, Yellowstone executives marked the company’s ninth anniversary with a luncheon in Jersey City. In a celebratory email marking the occasion, Stern, the co-founder, wrote, “I am continually blown away at the success and achievements we continue to have.”
Sign This Agreement And Your Bank Account Might Be Frozen
Predatory lenders are turning to Connecticut to help collect their debts, using a legal trick to bypass judicial review.
Jared Alfin has powers that many of his fellow debt collectors can only dream of.
Alfin, a lawyer in Simsbury, Conn., can order someone’s bank account frozen without warning. He doesn’t need a judge’s say-so. He simply drafts some boilerplate legal papers and has them dropped off at the bank.
His clients are so-called merchant cash-advance companies that make costly, short-term loans to small businesses. Alfin gets involved when one of these loans goes sour. The borrower could be a restaurateur in San Diego or a self-employed trucker in Nashville. They might need that cash for employee paychecks or to pay the fuel bill.
No matter. Until Alfin relents or a judge intervenes, the money is untouchable—no withdrawals, no checks, no transfers. Last year, court records show, he pursued more than 180 small-business owners this way.
Alfin’s power flows from a feature of Connecticut law that plays normal court procedure in reverse. Typically, if you sue someone for money, a court has to rule in your favor before a defendant must hand over assets. Alfin uses what’s known as a prejudgment attachment to lock up people’s money first, before he’s won his case—in fact, before defendants even know they’re being sued.
His biggest client for these services is a group of a half-dozen related companies that use names such as Matrix Advance, Gofund Advance, and Bridge Funding Cap, court records show. These companies are managed from an office in the Borough Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, overseen by Jonathan Braun, according to people with knowledge of the matter. Braun is notorious in the world of high-interest lending.
New York’s attorney general has called him a “modern-day loan shark” and is suing him for ripping off customers and threatening violence at his previous cash-advance company.
Released from prison last year after President Donald Trump commuted an unrelated drug-trafficking sentence, Braun denies any wrongdoing in his cash-advance dealings and says he isn’t involved in the Borough Park operation.
Alfin, a partner at Hassett & George PC, wouldn’t discuss specific clients or say whether he’s had any contact with Braun, but he says cash-advance collections represent only part of his practice. And he says prejudgment attachment is a normal and appropriate part of commercial litigation. “I just simply file papers for different clients,” he says. “I don’t think I am doing anything improper.”
Last summer, Alfin locked up about $14,600 in two bank accounts belonging to Lucy Barrachina, who employs four people at a pharmacy in Dickinson, Texas, a city near Houston, court records show. Barrachina had missed payments on a loan from Matrix, and a representative there demanded immediate cash to have the funds released. “I told him, ‘But we have payroll, we have to pay our employees, we cannot do that,’ ” Barrachina says.
Instead, she agreed to add an extra $10,000 onto a loan balance that was already costing her more than 700% annualized. Her bank account was unfrozen, but she was in debt even deeper than before. “I regret it so much that we got in touch with them,” she says.
Not long ago, cash-advance companies often relied on a different legal instrument to raid customers’ bank accounts, a confession of judgment filed in a New York court.
A 2018 Bloomberg News series highlighted abuses of that tactic, finding that confessions were sometimes forged, altered, or deployed against borrowers who hadn’t missed payments and that they helped destroy thousands of small businesses nationwide. Braun was one of the most aggressive users.
After New York lawmakers curtailed the use of confessions in 2019, the industry, concentrated in Manhattan and Brooklyn, explored alternatives. Some lenders turned to courts in Utah or Texas, where confessions or similar instruments can still be used. Some tried their own arbitration schemes in which hand-picked arbitrators quickly ruled in favor of lenders.
Others turned to Connecticut, where long-standing state law allows courts to restrain a defendant’s property at the start of a case to prevent that person from moving assets out of reach. Ordinarily, that kind of restraint is granted by a judge after a hearing attended by both parties, and the plaintiff must demonstrate he’s likely to prevail.
But Alfin—the only lawyer in the state routinely seeking prejudgment attachments on behalf of the cash-advance industry, according to a review of court records—doesn’t need to bother with pretrial hearings.
Buried in the fine print of his clients’ loan agreements is a clause that specifically waives the borrowers’ right to such a hearing. That means that whenever a client wants, Alfin can freeze a borrower’s property, as long as he obtains a written affidavit from the client stating that money is owed.
Alfin says this type of waiver is common in commercial lending in Connecticut and isn’t as onerous as the New York tactic that came under criticism from lawmakers there. By itself, a Connecticut prejudgment attachment cannot be used to drain bank accounts, only freeze them temporarily, and defendants can demand a hearing to free them up.
That would, of course, require a small-business owner in Texas or Minnesota to swiftly hire a lawyer in Connecticut while lacking access to a bank account. Asked if any of his cash-advance cases had resulted in such a hearing, Alfin says he can’t recall one.
The Borough Park crew operates out of a second-story office on 13th Avenue. Braun, 38, joined up not long after Trump let him out of prison last year, people with knowledge of the matter say. They say that although his name doesn’t appear on paperwork, he’s the boss.
The group began using the Connecticut tactic shortly before Braun’s release from prison and has sought more than $10 million from more than 100 small businesses this way, court records show. The typical deal involves interest amounting to more than 500% annualized. To get access to the state’s legal system, the group’s companies claim a “place of business” at a rented mailbox in a strip mall in Avon, Conn.
Alfin said in an email that Braun “is not a member or employee” of any of these companies. “I am also not aware of any instances where Mr. Braun spoke to a merchant that one of my clients sued” in the state, he added.
In Barrachina’s case, court records show she agreed to borrow $50,000 from Matrix in August, though she said she actually received far less after fees were deducted. She agreed to pay back $2,500 a day, starting immediately, until she’d paid $74,950.
Barrachina says she had trouble keeping up and asked her contact at Matrix for a lower daily payment, but the company refused. Within days of the first missed payment, Alfin drafted some legal papers and sent them to a Connecticut marshal, a state-appointed officer who serves legal documents and is compensated by the lawyers who hire her.
The marshal, Elizabeth Ostrowski, in turn delivered copies to local branches or agents of two banks that Barrachina used. Soon, accounts at both banks were frozen. Ostrowski declined to comment.
Barrachina says she learned what was going on only when she discovered she didn’t have access to her bank accounts. She says she was left with no other option and agreed to take on more debt to have her accounts unfrozen.
But her trouble didn’t end there. About $1,900 remained frozen for months after she settled. Alfin attributes that to a mix-up by one of the banks. After inquiries from Bloomberg Businessweek, he took further steps to get the money released, and Barrachina received a check on Feb. 1.
The industry is using Connecticut law in a way that was never intended by the legislature, says Shane Heskin, a Philadelphia-based lawyer with White & Williams LLP who represents small-business owners. Cash-advance companies are using it to strong-arm people into a settlement, regardless of the merits of their cases, he says. “It effectively makes them negotiate with a gun to their head.”
Alfin disagrees. “The purpose of the prejudgment remedy is to secure assets so that the assets are not dissipated,” he says. That’s exactly what happens in his cases, he says.
Connecticut law trusts private lenders to do the right thing, letting them freeze bank accounts without anyone checking beforehand to see if they doctored contracts, inflated the size of debts, or fabricated defaults—the kind of abuses cash-advance customers have complained about for years.
Some of those complaints have involved Braun. In 2018, a New York judge found that Braun’s previous lending operation, Richmond Capital Group LLC, ripped off a plumber and then lied about it when seeking a court judgment against him.
“The record is replete with evidence that [Richmond] made false statements and misrepresentations to the court,” the judge wrote, and “essentially made the court an unwilling participant in its fraud.” Later, both the Federal Trade Commission and the New York attorney general’s office filed lawsuits alleging that Braun and Richmond systematically abused the New York courts.
Braun and his then-business partners “file false affidavits in which they misrepresent to courts the nature of their loans and often the amounts paid and still due,” an assistant attorney general wrote. Braun has denied the allegations in court, and the cases are pending.
So far, the cash-advance industry’s use of Connecticut law hasn’t attracted notice from officials there. The office of the state’s chief court administrator referred questions to the attorney general’s office, which said it hadn’t received any complaints about the matter.
In an email, Steve Stafstrom, chairman of the state House Judiciary Committee, said he hadn’t heard anything either. “It may be something we should look into,” he wrote.
The ‘Hell or High Water Clause’ Is Tormenting Small-Business Owners
Many entrepreneurs lease their equipment. Then, if hurt by the pandemic, they face years of payments, even if the gear is faulty.
Small-business owners often rely on leasing for the equipment they need, from trucks to restaurant ovens. It’s a way to get set up without having to pour in a lot of cash.
The pandemic upended many of those small businesses’ plans. In the process, it has fueled bitter clashes between owners and leasing companies.
The culprit is a provision in most lease and finance contracts that binds owners to make years of monthly payments, no matter what happens to their business and even if the equipment doesn’t work or is returned. The industry calls it the “hell or high water clause.”
Nicole Carranza and her husband leased $59,000 worth of equipment for a restaurant they planned to open in La Habra, Calif., just before the pandemic. After it began, they couldn’t finance additional equipment, so they dropped their plan and canceled the order.
Only one item had shipped. The vendor returned the money paid for the rest of the equipment to the leasing company, Pawnee Leasing Corp.
Pawnee told the Carranzas they still had a lease contract. It said that after a deduction for the returned funds, they owed it nearly $70,000 in payments that they would have made over the 55-month lease if they had received and kept the equipment.
The Carranzas in turn filed for personal bankruptcy, mainly due to debt to the leasing company, Ms. Carranza said. “With the rest of the debt, we would have probably looked at something more like a debt restructuring,” she said.
Pawnee declined to comment on a specific customer. “We provided substantial support to very large number of our customers to help and provide them time to adjust their business operations to the new COVID-world,” President Gary Souverein said in an email. Deferrals typically averaged one to three months, according to securities filings by Pawnee’s parent, Toronto-based Chesswood Group Ltd.
Without addressing specifics, Mr. Souverein called Wall Street Journal descriptions of the Carranzas’ lease matter and another one “either insufficient, inaccurate or misleading and generally out of context.”
Leasing equipment can be an attractive option for entrepreneurs and business owners who have limited cash, can’t get bank financing or worry about purchasing equipment that might grow outdated.
Stephen Martin and his partners chose that route when they opened a facilities-management company in late 2019 and needed scrubbers and other gear. “We couldn’t afford to buy,” he said, and “banks don’t really pay attention to you until you have crossed over two years” of experience.
Mr. Martin said leasing has worked well for their ACESA Cleaning Service in Duluth, Ga. He added that an owner needs to be careful, because “the fine print is often on the back in really minute lettering.”
Equipment and vehicle leases totaled about $160 billion in outstanding balances in 2019, the newest available number, according to the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
The volume of leases and finance transactions under $250,000 increased by nearly 15% in 2021 from a year earlier after dipping slightly in 2020, according to the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association, an industry group. Many leasing and finance companies are arms of equipment makers such as Deere & Co. and Caterpillar Inc. or of big banks.
Although federal and state laws provide an array of protections to individuals who borrow, such as required disclosure of borrowing costs, they generally don’t extend these to small businesses. Unlike leases to individuals, those to small businesses don’t have to spell out the total amount to be paid over the life of the lease or the value of the equipment being financed.
Leasing and finance companies are pretty careful to explain the terms of contracts, said Ralph Petta, chief executive of the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association. It is in their interest to work with customers affected by the pandemic, he said, adding that the financial strains “are not unique to equipment financing.”
As of June 2020, about three months after the start of the pandemic, leasing and finance companies had deferred payments on 15% of their equipment-finance portfolio, according to an analysis of data collected by the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation. By September they had an average of just 4% of their portfolios in deferral, said the analysis, done by consultant Tom Ware.
Comparable figures for bank lending are hard to come by, but many small-business owners say their banks showed more flexibility, as federal bank regulators urged. Bank of America Corp., for one, deferred payments on 20% of small-business credit-card balances and 14% of other small-business loan balances.
Pattera Newsome said when he shut down his Denham Springs, La., landscaping and maintenance firm after revenue dried up in the pandemic, all of his lenders except an equipment finance company agreed to work with him by writing off some debt or deferring payments while he tried to restart his business. The company, Ascentium Capital, sued for payments for an ice vending machine and related hardware, plus interest, attorney’s fees and other costs.
A court granted Ascentium a default judgment for more than $60,000 in 2021. A spokeswoman for Ascentium’s parent company, Regions Financial Corp., declined to discuss a specific client but said: “Ascentium Capital has a strong track record of working in support of clients if their business experiences financial difficulty.”
The “hell or high water” provision that leaves customers responsible for all payments regardless of circumstances is based on the notion that the leasing company just provides financing and isn’t making or selling equipment, said James Schallheim, a finance professor at the University of Utah. “A lot of courts have upheld it even in situations where I would say it doesn’t seem right,” he said.
“On the other hand,” he said, the arrangement “does allow for a lot of low-credit-type lessees to get a lease when they otherwise wouldn’t be able to get financing.”
Industry officials defend the provision on the grounds that companies assume significant risk when they buy equipment and lease it out, such as that the equipment loses value over time.
“A lease is a non-cancellable lease. At the end of the day, the customer is obligated for the entire amount,” said Tom Meredith, chief commercial officer of leasing company De Lage Landen Financial Services Inc. He said DLL, a subsidiary of the Netherlands’ Rabobank, granted three-month extensions to many customers struggling during the pandemic and gave some a second deferral.
Bobby Clements, owner of Limitless Powder Coating in Modesto, Calif., said he is stuck with a lease on an oven convection system. The oven, for melting powder, is smaller than what he ordered, Mr. Clements said, and it lacks a burner, control box and other key components, making it unusable.
The lease contract he signed in October 2019 said he “unconditionally and irrevocably” guaranteed 60 months of payments and accepted the equipment as-is. If he missed a payment, the company had a right to all future payments plus other costs, the contract said.
Mr. Clements said he has made about two dozen payments to Financial Pacific Leasing Inc. but didn’t make several. In February, he signed a contract addendum that increased his monthly payments by a little under $150 and required him to resume making them.
“I am stuck in a Catch-22. If I don’t do it, my credit gets ruined. If I do do it, I’m throwing money out the window,” said Mr. Clements, who has filed a suit against the equipment provider in state court in Stanislaus County, Calif. An attorney for the provider, who has denied responsibility in court filings, declined to comment.
Financial Pacific said when customers ask to finance equipment before it has been delivered, as in this case, it takes special care to be sure they understand they are “asking to assume all liability and accountability for the equipment and the vendor relationship.” Financial Pacific works with customers when disputes arise, said Kurt Heath, a spokesman for the firm, which is owned by Umpqua Holdings Corp.
“In the case of Limitless Coating, lease modifications were requested and granted that have allowed for six-months of deferred payments in total,” Mr. Heath said in an email.
If there’s a dispute, many lease and finance contracts permit a suit to be brought in a court far from a small-business customer’s location.
Sky Properties Inc., a Los Angeles property manager, faced a suit in Linn County, Iowa, more than 1,800 miles away, over a spat with leasing company GreatAmerica Financial Services Corp.
Sky balked at making payments on leased telecommunications equipment it said didn’t work. Sky owner Kari Negri asked the vendor to take back the equipment, but it refused, she said.
The contract called for Sky to make 60 monthly lease payments of $336.40. “We will still need to be paid whole,” a GreatAmerica portfolio manager told Ms. Negri by email.
The suit was one of more than 300 that the leasing company, based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, has filed in local Linn County since the start of the pandemic, according to court records. GreatAmerica CEO Stan Herkelman said if the firm sued in every jurisdiction where it has customers, that would be an added expense borne by customers who pay on time.
Support of leased equipment “is driven by the equipment vendor,” he said. “That’s why you find the hell or high water language in there.”
GreatAmerica said it provided deferrals or extensions to 95% of customers who requested them. It thinks of itself as a pretty strong ally of small and medium sized businesses, Mr. Herkelman said.
Sky’s Ms. Negri didn’t fight the suit. “To travel all that way, for a small company, the expense is really not worth it,” she said.
Instead, she filed a claim of her own against the vendor of the equipment she said didn’t work, then used a $5,000 small-claims-court award plus company funds to pay GreatAmerica’s roughly $12,000 claim.
Ms. Carranza, the restaurateur who with her husband filed for bankruptcy largely over a lease debt, said she didn’t know the leasing company’s name, Pawnee, until her first payment was due. A broker had arranged the transaction.
The broker was Kingswood Leasing. Maura Bragg, an attorney with its parent company, TimePayment Corp., said it is standard for leasing companies to introduce themselves after a lease is signed. She said Ms. Carranza came across as a sophisticated business owner.
In late 2020, Pawnee offered to settle the debt for $29,000 if paid soon. “We don’t have that kind of financial capital,” Ms. Carranza said. “We put everything into the business. It was all gone.”
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Crypto Kids Camp
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Bitcoin To Come To America’s Oldest Bank, BNY Mellon
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Bitcoin Hits $43K All-Time High As Tesla Invests $1.5 Billion In BTC
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Investors Piling Into Overvalued Crypto Funds Risk A Painful Exit
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Miami Mayor Says City Employees Should Be Able To Take Their Salaries In Bitcoin
Bitcoiners Get Last Laugh As IBM’s “Blockchain Not Bitcoin” Effort Goes Belly-up
Bitcoin Accounts Offer 3-12% Rates In A Low-Interest World
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Tor Project’s Crypto Donations Increased 23% In 2020
Social Trading Platform eToro Ended 2020 With $600M In Revenue
Bitcoin Billionaire Set To Run For California Governor
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Bitcoin Entrepreneurs Install Mining Rigs In Cars. Will Trucks And Tractor Trailers Be Next?
Harvard, Yale, Brown Endowments Have Been Buying Bitcoin For At Least A Year
Bitcoin Return To $40,000 In Doubt As Flows To Key Fund Slow
Ultimate Resource For Leading Non-Profits Focused On Policy Issues Facing Cryptocurrencies
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To Understand Bitcoin, Just Think of It As A Faith-Based Asset
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Pro Traders Buy The Dip As Bulls Address A Trifecta Of FUD News Announcements
Andreas Antonopoulos And Others Debunk Bitcoin Double-Spend FUD
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Ex-Ripple CTO Can’t Remember Password To Access $240M In Bitcoin
Financial Advisers Are Betting On Bitcoin As A Hedge
ECB President Christine Lagarde (French Convict) Says, Bitcoin Enables “Funny Business.”
German Police Shut Down Darknet Marketplace That Traded Bitcoin
Bitcoin Miner That’s Risen 1,400% Says More Regulation Is Needed
Bitcoin Rebounds While Leaving Everyone In Dark On True Worth
UK Treasury Calls For Feedback On Approach To Cryptocurrency And Stablecoin Regulation
What Crypto Users Need Know About Changes At The SEC
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Bitcoin’s Wild Weekends Turn Efficient Market Theory Inside Out
Mega-Bullish News For Bitcoin As Elon Musk Says, “Pay Me In Bitcoin” And Biden Says, “Ignore Budget Deficits”!
Bitcoin Price Briefly Surpasses Market Cap Of Tencent
Broker Touts Exotic Bitcoin Bet To Squeeze Income From Crypto
Broker Touts Exotic Bitcoin Bet To Squeeze Income From Crypto
Tesla’s Crypto-Friendly CEO Is Now The Richest Man In The World
Crypto Market Cap Breaks $1 Trillion Following Jaw-Dropping Rally
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Crypto Users Donate $400K To Julian Assange Defense As Mexico Proposes Asylum
Grayscale Ethereum Trust Fell 22% Despite Rally In Holdings
Bitcoin’s Bulls Should Fear Its Other Scarcity Problem
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Retail Investors Are Largely Uninvolved As Bitcoin Price Chases $40K
Bitcoin Breaches $34,000 As Rally Extends Into New Year
Social Media Interest In Bitcoin Hits All-Time High
Bitcoin Price Quickly Climbs To $31K, Liquidating $100M Of Shorts
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FinCEN Wants US Citizens To Disclose Offshore Crypto Holdings of $10K+
Governments Will Start To Hodl Bitcoin In 2021
Crypto-Linked Stocks Extend Rally That Produced 400% Gains
‘Bitcoin Liquidity Crisis’ — BTC Is Becoming Harder To Buy On Exchanges, Data Shows
Bitcoin Looks To Gain Traction In Payments
BTC Market Cap Now Over Half A Trillion Dollars. Major Weekly Candle Closed!!
Elon Musk And Satoshi Nakamoto Making Millionaires At Record Pace
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Santoshi Nakamoto Delivers $24.5K Christmas Gift With Another New All-Time High
Bitcoin’s Rally Has Already Outlasted 2017’s Epic Run
Gifting Crypto To Loved Ones This Holiday? Educate Them First
Scaramucci’s SkyBridge Files With SEC To Launch Bitcoin Fund
Samsung Integrates Bitcoin Wallets And Exchange Into Galaxy Phones
HTC Smartphone Will Run A Full Bitcoin Node (#GotBitcoin?)
HTC’s New 5G Router Can Host A Full Bitcoin Node
Bitcoin Miners Are Heating Homes Free of Charge
Bitcoin Miners Will Someday Be Incorporated Into Household Appliances
Musk Inquires About Moving ‘Large Transactions’ To Bitcoin
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Megan Thee Stallion Gives Away $1 Million In Bitcoin
CoinFLEX Sets Up Short-Term Lending Facility For Crypto Traders
Wall Street Quants Pounce On Crytpo Industry And Some Are Not Sure What To Make Of It
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Bitcoin Tops $22,000 And Strategists Say Rally Has Further To Go
Why Bitcoin Is Overpriced by More Than 50%
Kraken Exchange Will Integrate Bitcoin’s Lightning Network In 2021
New To Bitcoin? Stay Safe And Avoid These Common Scams
Andreas M. Antonopoulos And Simon Dixon Say Don’t Buy Bitcoin!
Famous Former Bitcoin Critics Who Conceded In 2020
Jim Cramer Bought Bitcoin While ‘Off Nicely From The Top’ In $17,000S
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WordPress Adds Official Ethereum Ad Plugin
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Movie Based On Darknet Market Silk Road Premiering In February
Crypto Funds Have Seen Record Investment Inflow In Recent Weeks
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$1,200 US Stimulus Check Is Now Worth Almost $4,000 If Invested In Bitcoin
German Bank Launches Crypto Fund Covering Portfolio Of Digital Assets
World Governments Agree On Importance Of Crypto Regulation At G-7 Meeting
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It’s Not About Data Ownership, It’s About Data Control, EFF Director Says
‘It Will Send BTC’ — On-Chain Analyst Says Bitcoin Hodlers Are Only Getting Stronger
Bitcoin Arrives On Wall Street: S&P Dow Jones Launching Crypto Indexes In 2021
Audio Streaming Giant Spotify Is Looking Into Crypto Payments
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Bitcoin Is The Tulipmania That Refuses To Die
Ultimate Resource On Ethereum 2.0
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Bitcoin Is Winning The Monetary Revolution
Cash Is Trash, Dump Gold, Buy Bitcoin!
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Guggenheim Fund ($295 Billion Assets Under Management) Reserves Right To Put Up To 10% In Bitcoin Trust!
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Coinbase CEO: Trump Administration May ‘Rush Out’ Burdensome Crypto Wallet Rules
Bitcoin Plunges Along With Other Coins Providing For A Major Black Friday Sale Opportunity
The Most Bullish Bitcoin Arguments For Your Thanksgiving Table
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World’s First 24/7 Crypto Call-In Station!!!
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The Dark Future Where Payments Are Politicized And Bitcoin Wins
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Ultimate Resource On Mike Novogratz And Galaxy Digital’s Bitcoin News
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Bitcoin Is Back Trading Near Three-Year Highs
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Market Is Proving Bitcoin Is ‘Ultimate Safe Haven’ — Anthony Pompliano
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Bitcoin Resurgence Leaves Institutional Acceptance Unanswered
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WordPress Content Can Now Be Timestamped On Ethereum
PayPal To Offer Crypto Payments Starting In 2021 (A-Z) (#GotBitcoin?)
As Bitcoin Approaches $13,000 It Breaks Correlation With Equities
Crypto M&A Surges Past 2019 Total As Rest of World Eclipses U.S. (#GotBitcoin?)
How HBCUs Are Prepping Black Students For Blockchain Careers
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Memes Mean Mad Money. Those Silly Defi Memes, They’re Really Important (#GotBitcoin?)
Bennie Overton’s Story About Our Corrupt U.S. Judicial, Global Financial Monetary System And Bitcoin
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Mad Money’s Jim Cramer Will Invest 1% Of Net Worth In Bitcoin Says, “Gold Is Dangerous”
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The Assets That Matter Most In Crypto (#GotBitcoin?)
Ultimate Resource On Non-Fungible Tokens
Bitcoin Community Highlights Double-Standard Applied Deutsche Bank Epstein Scandal
Blockchain Makes Strides In Diversity. However, Traditional Tech Industry Not-S0-Much (#GotBitcoin?)
An Israeli Blockchain Startup Claims It’s Invented An ‘Undo’ Button For BTC Transactions
After Years of Resistance, BitPay Adopts SegWit For Cheaper Bitcoin Transactions
US Appeals Court Allows Warrantless Search of Blockchain, Exchange Data
Central Bank Rate Cuts Mean ‘World Has Gone Zimbabwe’
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China Discovers 4% Of Its Reserves Or 83 Tons Of It’s Gold Bars Are Fake (#GotBitcoin?)
Former Legg Mason Star Bill Miller And Bloomberg Are Optimistic About Bitcoin’s Future
Yield Chasers Are Yield Farming In Crypto-Currencies (#GotBitcoin?)
Australia Post Office Now Lets Customers Buy Bitcoin At Over 3,500 Outlets
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SEC And DOJ Charges Lobbying Kingpin Jack Abramoff And Associate For Money Laundering
Veteran Commodities Trader Chris Hehmeyer Goes All In On Crypto (#GotBitcoin?)
Activists Document Police Misconduct Using Decentralized Protocol (#GotBitcoin?)
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Industry Leaders Launch PayID, The Universal ID For Payments (#GotBitcoin?)
Crypto Quant Fund Debuts With $23M In Assets, $2.3B In Trades (#GotBitcoin?)
The Queens Politician Who Wants To Give New Yorkers Their Own Crypto
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Trump Orders Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin To Destroy Bitcoin Just Like They Destroyed The Traditional Economy
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Germany’s Deutsche Borse Exchange To List New Bitcoin Exchange-Traded Product
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US Pentagon Created A War Game To Fight The Establishment With BTC (#GotBitcoin?)
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Meltem Demirors: “Bitcoin Is Not A F*Cking Systemic Hedge If You Hold Your Bitcoin At A Financial Institution”
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Square’s Users Can Route Stimulus Payments To BTC-Friendly Cash App
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Mike Novogratz And Andreas Antonopoulos On The Bitcoin Crash
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Coinbase Becomes Direct Visa Card Issuer With Principal Membership
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Central Banks Warm To Issuing Digital Currencies (#GotBitcoin?)
Meet The Crypto Angel Investor Running For Congress In Nevada (#GotBitcoin?)
Introducing BTCPay Vault – Use Any Hardware Wallet With BTCPay And Its Full Node (#GotBitcoin?)
How Not To Lose Your Coins In 2020: Alternative Recovery Methods (#GotBitcoin?)
H.R.5635 – Virtual Currency Tax Fairness Act of 2020 ($200.00 Limit) 116th Congress (2019-2020)
Adam Back On Satoshi Emails, Privacy Concerns And Bitcoin’s Early Days
The Prospect of Using Bitcoin To Build A New International Monetary System Is Getting Real
How To Raise Funds For Australia Wildfire Relief Efforts (Using Bitcoin And/Or Fiat )
Former Regulator Known As ‘Crypto Dad’ To Launch Digital-Dollar Think Tank (#GotBitcoin?)
Currency ‘Cold War’ Takes Center Stage At Pre-Davos Crypto Confab (#GotBitcoin?)
A Blockchain-Secured Home Security Camera Won Innovation Awards At CES 2020 Las Vegas
Bitcoin’s Had A Sensational 11 Years (#GotBitcoin?)
Sergey Nazarov And The Creation Of A Decentralized Network Of Oracles
Google Suspends MetaMask From Its Play App Store, Citing “Deceptive Services”
Christmas Shopping: Where To Buy With Crypto This Festive Season
At 8,990,000% Gains, Bitcoin Dwarfs All Other Investments This Decade
Coinbase CEO Armstrong Wins Patent For Tech Allowing Users To Email Bitcoin
Bitcoin Has Got Society To Think About The Nature Of Money
How DeFi Goes Mainstream In 2020: Focus On Usability (#GotBitcoin?)
Dissidents And Activists Have A Lot To Gain From Bitcoin, If Only They Knew It (#GotBitcoin?)
At A Refugee Camp In Iraq, A 16-Year-Old Syrian Is Teaching Crypto Basics
Bitclub Scheme Busted In The US, Promising High Returns From Mining
Bitcoin Advertised On French National TV
Germany: New Proposed Law Would Legalize Banks Holding Bitcoin
How To Earn And Spend Bitcoin On Black Friday 2019
The Ultimate List of Bitcoin Developments And Accomplishments
Charities Put A Bitcoin Twist On Giving Tuesday
Family Offices Finally Accept The Benefits of Investing In Bitcoin
An Army Of Bitcoin Devs Is Battle-Testing Upgrades To Privacy And Scaling
Bitcoin ‘Carry Trade’ Can Net Annual Gains With Little Risk, Says PlanB
Max Keiser: Bitcoin’s ‘Self-Settlement’ Is A Revolution Against Dollar
Blockchain Can And Will Replace The IRS
China Seizes The Blockchain Opportunity. How Should The US Respond? (#GotBitcoin?)
Jack Dorsey: You Can Buy A Fraction Of Berkshire Stock Or ‘Stack Sats’
Bitcoin Price Skyrockets $500 In Minutes As Bakkt BTC Contracts Hit Highs
Bitcoin’s Irreversibility Challenges International Private Law: Legal Scholar
Bitcoin Has Already Reached 40% Of Average Fiat Currency Lifespan
Yes, Even Bitcoin HODLers Can Lose Money In The Long-Term: Here’s How (#GotBitcoin?)
Unicef To Accept Donations In Bitcoin (#GotBitcoin?)
Former Prosecutor Asked To “Shut Down Bitcoin” And Is Now Face Of Crypto VC Investing (#GotBitcoin?)
Switzerland’s ‘Crypto Valley’ Is Bringing Blockchain To Zurich
Next Bitcoin Halving May Not Lead To Bull Market, Says Bitmain CEO
Tim Draper Bets On Unstoppable Domain’s .Crypto Domain Registry To Replace Wallet Addresses (#GotBitcoin?)
Bitcoin Developer Amir Taaki, “We Can Crash National Economies” (#GotBitcoin?)
Veteran Crypto And Stocks Trader Shares 6 Ways To Invest And Get Rich
Is Chainlink Blazing A Trail Independent Of Bitcoin?
Nearly $10 Billion In BTC Is Held In Wallets Of 8 Crypto Exchanges (#GotBitcoin?)
SEC Enters Settlement Talks With Alleged Fraudulent Firm Veritaseum (#GotBitcoin?)
Blockstream’s Samson Mow: Bitcoin’s Block Size Already ‘Too Big’
Attorneys Seek Bank Of Ireland Execs’ Testimony Against OneCoin Scammer (#GotBitcoin?)
OpenLibra Plans To Launch Permissionless Fork Of Facebook’s Stablecoin (#GotBitcoin?)
Tiny $217 Options Trade On Bitcoin Blockchain Could Be Wall Street’s Death Knell (#GotBitcoin?)
Class Action Accuses Tether And Bitfinex Of Market Manipulation (#GotBitcoin?)
Sharia Goldbugs: How ISIS Created A Currency For World Domination (#GotBitcoin?)
Bitcoin Eyes Demand As Hong Kong Protestors Announce Bank Run (#GotBitcoin?)
How To Securely Transfer Crypto To Your Heirs
‘Gold-Backed’ Crypto Token Promoter Karatbars Investigated By Florida Regulators (#GotBitcoin?)
Crypto News From The Spanish-Speaking World (#GotBitcoin?)
Financial Services Giant Morningstar To Offer Ratings For Crypto Assets (#GotBitcoin?)
‘Gold-Backed’ Crypto Token Promoter Karatbars Investigated By Florida Regulators (#GotBitcoin?)
The Original Sins Of Cryptocurrencies (#GotBitcoin?)
Bitcoin Is The Fraud? JPMorgan Metals Desk Fixed Gold Prices For Years (#GotBitcoin?)
Israeli Startup That Allows Offline Crypto Transactions Secures $4M (#GotBitcoin?)
[PSA] Non-genuine Trezor One Devices Spotted (#GotBitcoin?)
Bitcoin Stronger Than Ever But No One Seems To Care: Google Trends (#GotBitcoin?)
First-Ever SEC-Qualified Token Offering In US Raises $23 Million (#GotBitcoin?)
You Can Now Prove A Whole Blockchain With One Math Problem – Really
Crypto Mining Supply Fails To Meet Market Demand In Q2: TokenInsight
$2 Billion Lost In Mt. Gox Bitcoin Hack Can Be Recovered, Lawyer Claims (#GotBitcoin?)
Fed Chair Says Agency Monitoring Crypto But Not Developing Its Own (#GotBitcoin?)
Wesley Snipes Is Launching A Tokenized $25 Million Movie Fund (#GotBitcoin?)
Mystery 94K BTC Transaction Becomes Richest Non-Exchange Address (#GotBitcoin?)
A Crypto Fix For A Broken International Monetary System (#GotBitcoin?)
Four Out Of Five Top Bitcoin QR Code Generators Are Scams: Report (#GotBitcoin?)
Waves Platform And The Abyss To Jointly Launch Blockchain-Based Games Marketplace (#GotBitcoin?)
Bitmain Ramps Up Power And Efficiency With New Bitcoin Mining Machine (#GotBitcoin?)
Ledger Live Now Supports Over 1,250 Ethereum-Based ERC-20 Tokens (#GotBitcoin?)
Miss Finland: Bitcoin’s Risk Keeps Most Women Away From Cryptocurrency (#GotBitcoin?)
Artist Akon Loves BTC And Says, “It’s Controlled By The People” (#GotBitcoin?)
Ledger Live Now Supports Over 1,250 Ethereum-Based ERC-20 Tokens (#GotBitcoin?)
Co-Founder Of LinkedIn Presents Crypto Rap Video: Hamilton Vs. Satoshi (#GotBitcoin?)
Crypto Insurance Market To Grow, Lloyd’s Of London And Aon To Lead (#GotBitcoin?)
No ‘AltSeason’ Until Bitcoin Breaks $20K, Says Hedge Fund Manager (#GotBitcoin?)
NSA Working To Develop Quantum-Resistant Cryptocurrency: Report (#GotBitcoin?)
Custody Provider Legacy Trust Launches Crypto Pension Plan (#GotBitcoin?)
Vaneck, SolidX To Offer Limited Bitcoin ETF For Institutions Via Exemption (#GotBitcoin?)
Russell Okung: From NFL Superstar To Bitcoin Educator In 2 Years (#GotBitcoin?)
Bitcoin Miners Made $14 Billion To Date Securing The Network (#GotBitcoin?)
Why Does Amazon Want To Hire Blockchain Experts For Its Ads Division?
Argentina’s Economy Is In A Technical Default (#GotBitcoin?)
Blockchain-Based Fractional Ownership Used To Sell High-End Art (#GotBitcoin?)
Portugal Tax Authority: Bitcoin Trading And Payments Are Tax-Free (#GotBitcoin?)
Bitcoin ‘Failed Safe Haven Test’ After 7% Drop, Peter Schiff Gloats (#GotBitcoin?)
Bitcoin Dev Reveals Multisig UI Teaser For Hardware Wallets, Full Nodes (#GotBitcoin?)
Bitcoin Price: $10K Holds For Now As 50% Of CME Futures Set To Expire (#GotBitcoin?)
Bitcoin Realized Market Cap Hits $100 Billion For The First Time (#GotBitcoin?)
Stablecoins Begin To Look Beyond The Dollar (#GotBitcoin?)
Bank Of England Governor: Libra-Like Currency Could Replace US Dollar (#GotBitcoin?)
Binance Reveals ‘Venus’ — Its Own Project To Rival Facebook’s Libra (#GotBitcoin?)
The Real Benefits Of Blockchain Are Here. They’re Being Ignored (#GotBitcoin?)
CommBank Develops Blockchain Market To Boost Biodiversity (#GotBitcoin?)
SEC Approves Blockchain Tech Startup Securitize To Record Stock Transfers (#GotBitcoin?)
SegWit Creator Introduces New Language For Bitcoin Smart Contracts (#GotBitcoin?)
You Can Now Earn Bitcoin Rewards For Postmates Purchases (#GotBitcoin?)
Bitcoin Price ‘Will Struggle’ In Big Financial Crisis, Says Investor (#GotBitcoin?)
Fidelity Charitable Received Over $100M In Crypto Donations Since 2015 (#GotBitcoin?)
Would Blockchain Better Protect User Data Than FaceApp? Experts Answer (#GotBitcoin?)
Just The Existence Of Bitcoin Impacts Monetary Policy (#GotBitcoin?)
What Are The Biggest Alleged Crypto Heists And How Much Was Stolen? (#GotBitcoin?)
IRS To Cryptocurrency Owners: Come Clean, Or Else!
Coinbase Accidentally Saves Unencrypted Passwords Of 3,420 Customers (#GotBitcoin?)
Bitcoin Is A ‘Chaos Hedge, Or Schmuck Insurance‘ (#GotBitcoin?)
Bakkt Announces September 23 Launch Of Futures And Custody
Coinbase CEO: Institutions Depositing $200-400M Into Crypto Per Week (#GotBitcoin?)
Researchers Find Monero Mining Malware That Hides From Task Manager (#GotBitcoin?)
Crypto Dusting Attack Affects Nearly 300,000 Addresses (#GotBitcoin?)
A Case For Bitcoin As Recession Hedge In A Diversified Investment Portfolio (#GotBitcoin?)
SEC Guidance Gives Ammo To Lawsuit Claiming XRP Is Unregistered Security (#GotBitcoin?)
15 Countries To Develop Crypto Transaction Tracking System: Report (#GotBitcoin?)
US Department Of Commerce Offering 6-Figure Salary To Crypto Expert (#GotBitcoin?)
Mastercard Is Building A Team To Develop Crypto, Wallet Projects (#GotBitcoin?)
Canadian Bitcoin Educator Scams The Scammer And Donates Proceeds (#GotBitcoin?)
Amazon Wants To Build A Blockchain For Ads, New Job Listing Shows (#GotBitcoin?)
Shield Bitcoin Wallets From Theft Via Time Delay (#GotBitcoin?)
Blockstream Launches Bitcoin Mining Farm With Fidelity As Early Customer (#GotBitcoin?)
Commerzbank Tests Blockchain Machine To Machine Payments With Daimler (#GotBitcoin?)
Bitcoin’s Historical Returns Look Very Attractive As Online Banks Lower Payouts On Savings Accounts (#GotBitcoin?)
Man Takes Bitcoin Miner Seller To Tribunal Over Electricity Bill And Wins (#GotBitcoin?)
Bitcoin’s Computing Power Sets Record As Over 100K New Miners Go Online (#GotBitcoin?)
Walmart Coin And Libra Perform Major Public Relations For Bitcoin (#GotBitcoin?)
Judge Says Buying Bitcoin Via Credit Card Not Necessarily A Cash Advance (#GotBitcoin?)
Poll: If You’re A Stockowner Or Crypto-Currency Holder. What Will You Do When The Recession Comes?
1 In 5 Crypto Holders Are Women, New Report Reveals (#GotBitcoin?)
Beating Bakkt, Ledgerx Is First To Launch ‘Physical’ Bitcoin Futures In Us (#GotBitcoin?)
Facebook Warns Investors That Libra Stablecoin May Never Launch (#GotBitcoin?)
Government Money Printing Is ‘Rocket Fuel’ For Bitcoin (#GotBitcoin?)
Bitcoin-Friendly Square Cash App Stock Price Up 56% In 2019 (#GotBitcoin?)
Safeway Shoppers Can Now Get Bitcoin Back As Change At 894 US Stores (#GotBitcoin?)
TD Ameritrade CEO: There’s ‘Heightened Interest Again’ With Bitcoin (#GotBitcoin?)
Venezuela Sets New Bitcoin Volume Record Thanks To 10,000,000% Inflation (#GotBitcoin?)
Newegg Adds Bitcoin Payment Option To 73 More Countries (#GotBitcoin?)
China’s Schizophrenic Relationship With Bitcoin (#GotBitcoin?)
More Companies Build Products Around Crypto Hardware Wallets (#GotBitcoin?)
Bakkt Is Scheduled To Start Testing Its Bitcoin Futures Contracts Today (#GotBitcoin?)
Bitcoin Network Now 8 Times More Powerful Than It Was At $20K Price (#GotBitcoin?)
Crypto Exchange BitMEX Under Investigation By CFTC: Bloomberg (#GotBitcoin?)
“Bitcoin An ‘Unstoppable Force,” Says US Congressman At Crypto Hearing (#GotBitcoin?)
Bitcoin Network Is Moving $3 Billion Daily, Up 210% Since April (#GotBitcoin?)
Cryptocurrency Startups Get Partial Green Light From Washington
Fundstrat’s Tom Lee: Bitcoin Pullback Is Healthy, Fewer Searches Аre Good (#GotBitcoin?)
Bitcoin Lightning Nodes Are Snatching Funds From Bad Actors (#GotBitcoin?)
The Provident Bank Now Offers Deposit Services For Crypto-Related Entities (#GotBitcoin?)
Bitcoin Could Help Stop News Censorship From Space (#GotBitcoin?)
US Sanctions On Iran Crypto Mining — Inevitable Or Impossible? (#GotBitcoin?)
US Lawmaker Reintroduces ‘Safe Harbor’ Crypto Tax Bill In Congress (#GotBitcoin?)
EU Central Bank Won’t Add Bitcoin To Reserves — Says It’s Not A Currency (#GotBitcoin?)
The Miami Dolphins Now Accept Bitcoin And Litecoin Crypt-Currency Payments (#GotBitcoin?)
Trump Bashes Bitcoin And Alt-Right Is Mad As Hell (#GotBitcoin?)
Goldman Sachs Ramps Up Development Of New Secret Crypto Project (#GotBitcoin?)
Blockchain And AI Bond, Explained (#GotBitcoin?)
Grayscale Bitcoin Trust Outperformed Indexes In First Half Of 2019 (#GotBitcoin?)
XRP Is The Worst Performing Major Crypto Of 2019 (GotBitcoin?)
Bitcoin Back Near $12K As BTC Shorters Lose $44 Million In One Morning (#GotBitcoin?)
As Deutsche Bank Axes 18K Jobs, Bitcoin Offers A ‘Plan ฿”: VanEck Exec (#GotBitcoin?)
Argentina Drives Global LocalBitcoins Volume To Highest Since November (#GotBitcoin?)
‘I Would Buy’ Bitcoin If Growth Continues — Investment Legend Mobius (#GotBitcoin?)
Lawmakers Push For New Bitcoin Rules (#GotBitcoin?)
Facebook’s Libra Is Bad For African Americans (#GotBitcoin?)
Crypto Firm Charity Announces Alliance To Support Feminine Health (#GotBitcoin?)
Canadian Startup Wants To Upgrade Millions Of ATMs To Sell Bitcoin (#GotBitcoin?)
Trump Says US ‘Should Match’ China’s Money Printing Game (#GotBitcoin?)
Casa Launches Lightning Node Mobile App For Bitcoin Newbies (#GotBitcoin?)
Bitcoin Rally Fuels Market In Crypto Derivatives (#GotBitcoin?)
World’s First Zero-Fiat ‘Bitcoin Bond’ Now Available On Bloomberg Terminal (#GotBitcoin?)
Buying Bitcoin Has Been Profitable 98.2% Of The Days Since Creation (#GotBitcoin?)
Another Crypto Exchange Receives License For Crypto Futures
From ‘Ponzi’ To ‘We’re Working On It’ — BIS Chief Reverses Stance On Crypto (#GotBitcoin?)
These Are The Cities Googling ‘Bitcoin’ As Interest Hits 17-Month High (#GotBitcoin?)
Venezuelan Explains How Bitcoin Saves His Family (#GotBitcoin?)
Quantum Computing Vs. Blockchain: Impact On Cryptography
This Fund Is Riding Bitcoin To Top (#GotBitcoin?)
Bitcoin’s Surge Leaves Smaller Digital Currencies In The Dust (#GotBitcoin?)
Bitcoin Exchange Hits $1 Trillion In Trading Volume (#GotBitcoin?)
Bitcoin Breaks $200 Billion Market Cap For The First Time In 17 Months (#GotBitcoin?)
You Can Now Make State Tax Payments In Bitcoin (#GotBitcoin?)
Religious Organizations Make Ideal Places To Mine Bitcoin (#GotBitcoin?)
Goldman Sacs And JP Morgan Chase Finally Concede To Crypto-Currencies (#GotBitcoin?)
Bitcoin Heading For Fifth Month Of Gains Despite Price Correction (#GotBitcoin?)
Breez Reveals Lightning-Powered Bitcoin Payments App For IPhone (#GotBitcoin?)
Big Four Auditing Firm PwC Releases Cryptocurrency Auditing Software (#GotBitcoin?)
Amazon-Owned Twitch Quietly Brings Back Bitcoin Payments (#GotBitcoin?)
JPMorgan Will Pilot ‘JPM Coin’ Stablecoin By End Of 2019: Report (#GotBitcoin?)
Is There A Big Short In Bitcoin? (#GotBitcoin?)
Coinbase Hit With Outage As Bitcoin Price Drops $1.8K In 15 Minutes
Samourai Wallet Releases Privacy-Enhancing CoinJoin Feature (#GotBitcoin?)
There Are Now More Than 5,000 Bitcoin ATMs Around The World (#GotBitcoin?)
You Can Now Get Bitcoin Rewards When Booking At Hotels.Com (#GotBitcoin?)
North America’s Largest Solar Bitcoin Mining Farm Coming To California (#GotBitcoin?)
Bitcoin On Track For Best Second Quarter Price Gain On Record (#GotBitcoin?)
Bitcoin Hash Rate Climbs To New Record High Boosting Network Security (#GotBitcoin?)
Bitcoin Exceeds 1Million Active Addresses While Coinbase Custodies $1.3B In Assets
Why Bitcoin’s Price Suddenly Surged Back $5K (#GotBitcoin?)
Bitcoin’s Lightning Comes To Apple Smartwatches With New App (#GotBitcoin?)
E-Trade To Offer Crypto Trading (#GotBitcoin)
US Rapper Lil Pump Starts Accepting Bitcoin Via Lightning Network On Merchandise Store (#GotBitcoin?)
Bitfinex Used Tether Reserves To Mask Missing $850 Million, Probe Finds (#GotBitcoin?)
21-Year-Old Jailed For 10 Years After Stealing $7.5M In Crypto By Hacking Cell Phones (#GotBitcoin?)
You Can Now Shop With Bitcoin On Amazon Using Lightning (#GotBitcoin?)
Afghanistan, Tunisia To Issue Sovereign Bonds In Bitcoin, Bright Future Ahead (#GotBitcoin?)
Crypto Faithful Say Blockchain Can Remake Securities Market Machinery (#GotBitcoin?)
Disney In Talks To Acquire The Owner Of Crypto Exchanges Bitstamp And Korbit (#GotBitcoin?)
Crypto Exchange Gemini Rolls Out Native Wallet Support For SegWit Bitcoin Addresses (#GotBitcoin?)
Binance Delists Bitcoin SV, CEO Calls Craig Wright A ‘Fraud’ (#GotBitcoin?)
Bitcoin Outperforms Nasdaq 100, S&P 500, Grows Whopping 37% In 2019 (#GotBitcoin?)
Bitcoin Passes A Milestone 400 Million Transactions (#GotBitcoin?)
Future Returns: Why Investors May Want To Consider Bitcoin Now (#GotBitcoin?)
Next Bitcoin Core Release To Finally Connect Hardware Wallets To Full Nodes (#GotBitcoin?)
Major Crypto-Currency Exchanges Use Lloyd’s Of London, A Registered Insurance Broker (#GotBitcoin?)
How Bitcoin Can Prevent Fraud And Chargebacks (#GotBitcoin?)
Why Bitcoin’s Price Suddenly Surged Back $5K (#GotBitcoin?)
Zebpay Becomes First Exchange To Add Lightning Payments For All Users (#GotBitcoin?)
Coinbase’s New Customer Incentive: Interest Payments, With A Crypto Twist (#GotBitcoin?)
The Best Bitcoin Debit (Cashback) Cards Of 2019 (#GotBitcoin?)
Real Estate Brokerages Now Accepting Bitcoin (#GotBitcoin?)
Ernst & Young Introduces Tax Tool For Reporting Cryptocurrencies (#GotBitcoin?)
How Will Bitcoin Behave During A Recession? (#GotBitcoin?)
Investors Run Out of Options As Bitcoin, Stocks, Bonds, Oil Cave To Recession Fears (#GotBitcoin?)
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