Complicated Family Web: LVNV Funding, LLC Sherman Financial and Resurgent Capital

On October 28, 2011, the Maryland Commission of Financial Regulation Suspended the collection agency licenses of LVNV Funding, LLC and Resurgent Capital Services.

It is an excellent resource to assist in untangling the debt collection practices of LVNV Funding, LLC.  The highlights of this order allege that LVNV Funding and their master company, Resurgent, were not properly licensed as debt collectors in the state of Maryland and:

(1.)  Knowingly filing false, deceptive or deficient affidavits with regard to the affiant’s personal knowledge of the consumer’s claim; (2.) Intentionally misrepresenting the amount of the consumer claims and collecting impermissible compound interest; (3.) Knowingly collecting unauthorized attorney’s fees and prejudgment interest at unauthorized rates; and (4.) Filing cases which the relevant assignment documents evidence that LVNV did not have valid title of the consumer claims at issue.  Read the press release from the Maryland Commission of Financial Regulation here.

It’s a lot easier to research the relationship amongst debt buyer’s entities when they are a publicly traded company, such as Encore Capital for example who is the parent of Midland Funding, Midland Credit Management and many more.  You can find investor releases, SEC filings, and other things which shed much light on how the company operates.  However, when they are a privately traded company, it’s more difficult.  I’ve done my best to gather information from credible sources to ascertain the relationships that relate to LVNV Funding, LLC but it is not impossible for some errors to exist.  No to mention, these types of companies commonly dissolve entities and create new entities.The Sherman family of companies is quite an complicated mesh of stacked and overlapping LLCs.  LVNV Funding, LLC  is the entity most commonly seen on court dockets across the nation.  No wonder consumers have a hard time figuring out who this plaintiff really is.  It seems that the company itself tries very hard to obfuscate the relationships between LVNV Funding, LLC and the other parts of the “web”.  After doing a little digging, I found that the common thread to these companies is typically their top management.  These individuals can be found all over the grid acting in different managerial capacities within different LLCs simultaneously.  The most common reasons for creating such an intricate web of LLCs to operate within this industry is for liability concerns.  If LVNV Funding, LLC sues thousands and thousands of consumers every year, they are no doubt exposing themselves to counterclaims and FDCPA or FCRA lawsuits.  Stacking the LLCs is a great way to compartmentalize the risk to one entity, rather than one entire operation. Sometimes I’ve noticed that debt buying entities segregate their litigation to one LLC and their credit reporting to another.

Here is a list of entities that are related to LVNV Funding, LLC in some way, whether parent/subsidiary or servicer, etc. (If you have others that are verifiable, please let me know so I may add them).

Alegis Corporate Services, L.P.
Alegis Group L.P.
Anson Street LLC Partnership
Ascent Card Services, LLC
Ascent Card Services II LLC
Ashley Funding Services LLC
Cms Gen Partner LLC
Credit One Bank, N.A.
Credit One Financial Solutions, LLC
Enhance Financial Services Group Inc.
Fieldstone Asset Management LLC
First National Bank of Marin
Granite Asset Management LLC
Limestone Asset Management LLC
MGIC Investment Corporation (No longer has controlling interest in Sherman as of 2008)
MHC Receivables, LLC
Mortgage Guaranty Insurance (MGIC) Corporation
Outsourcing Solutions Inc. (OSI)
Radian Group, Inc. (No longer has controlling interest in Sherman as of 2010)
Resurgent Capital Services L. P.
Resurgent Capital Services PR LLC
Sfgmx, LLC
Sherman Acquisition II General Partner LLC
Sherman Acquisition II Limited Partnership
Sherman Acquisition L.L.C.
Sherman Acquisition Limited
Sherman Acquisition TA LP
Sherman Capital Markets LLC
Sherman General Partner TA, LLC
Sherman Originator, LLC
Sherman Financial Group, LLC
Tradd Street LLC

Credit One is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sherman. Sherman is an integrated financial services company engaged in purchasing and servicing receivable portfolios acquired at a discount, and originating and servicing credit card receivables. The company consists of numerous asset holding and operating entities throughout the United States and in Mexico City, Mexico. As of December 31, 2006, Sherman reported total assets of $1,204 million and net income of $347 million.

In addition, you can see right on Credit One Bank’s website their affiliation with Sherman.  “Our Affiliates include the Sherman Financial Group LLC family of companies; financial companies such as Credit One Financial and Resurgent.”

Sherman Financial Group was owned by management, Mortgage Guaranty Insurance (MGIC) Corporation and Radian Group, Inc. MGIC is a leading provider of private mortgage insurance in the United States, with a market capitalization of over $6.9 billion who sold their controlling interest back to Sherman in 2008. Radian is the second largest provider of private mortgage insurance and risk management services with a market capitalization of over $2.8 billion and sold their interest back to Sherman in 2010.

First National Bank of Marin.

The March 2005 acquisition of First National Bank of Marin is intended to provide Sherman with the capability to originate subprime credit card receivables. This acquisition has materially increased Sherman’s assets as well as its debt and its financial leverage.  According to the operating agreement between  First National Bank of Marin, Las Vegas, Nevada,  and The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency dated March 10, 2005, the duly elected and acting Board of Directors of the Bank were as follows:  Benjamin W. Navarro, Scott E. Silver,  S. Chris Jones, Brett A. Hildebrand, Robert DeJong, Berkman Hong. This operating agreement can be found here.

Additionally, Sherman Financial Group has an agreement with Outsourcing Solutions Inc. (OSI), the nation’s largest receivables management firm, under which OSI provides receivables and collection services and Sherman provides marketing services.

So who are the Sherman/LVNV Funding players?

Benjamin Navarro, Owner at Sherman Capital Markets LLC, Cms Gen Partner LLC,  Member at Sfgmx, LLC, and Authorized Representative at Sherman Acquisition II General Partner LLC & Sherman General Partner Ta, LLC

Kevin Branigan, Manager at Lvnv Funding LLC & Anson Street LLC and Director at Sherman Capital Markets LLC

Scott Silver, Manager at Lvnv Funding LLC, Manager at Anson Street LLC, & Manager at Pyod LLC & Authorized representative  at Sherman Acquisition II General Partner LLC & Sherman General Partner Ta, LLC

Les Gutierez, Manager at Lvnv Funding LLC

Tony M. Ettinger, President and CEO of Credit Based Capital.  In 2005, Tony Ettinger, a founder of two  specialty finance companies, C-BASS and Sherman Financial, has founded Credit Based Capital.

Sometime around 2007, Michael A. Keaton presented an affidavit to a Pennsylvania Bankruptcy court asserting himself as Senior Vice President of Resurgent Capital Services, Sherman Originator, LLC and Sherman Acquisition, LP and authorized representative of LVNV Funding, LLC.

According to an article from Yahoo! Finance:  Of course, there is method to the madness. New credit accounts will be approved with the contingency of old debt being transferred to the new account. Some of the old debts have expired due to statute of limitations or erased due to bankruptcy. It will be a trip clause, want a credit card, reaffirm an old debt. Other consumers report Sherman has contacted them regarding the availability of a new credit card account, and offer a settlement on previous debt, by transferring the balance to the new account. What an interesting concept. Buy a delinquent account for pennies on the dollar of face value, discount it 50% and call it a settlement. Sherman will have acquired a “new debt” and the return will quadruple their cost of its acquisition. Sherman will have an opportunity to collect original consumer debt. In the past the accounts for collections were either consigned by credit grantors, bought from lenders after they were determined to be uncollectable, or bought from resellers or other collection companies.

“Complex organizational structure of issuing banks – Account-level documentation is nearly impossible when a bank operates through various entities. For example, Credit One Bank, N.A. originates credit card accounts funded by affiliated entities, MHC Receivables, LLC (“MHC”) and FNBM, LLC (“FNBM”). The credit card receivables are then transferred to MHC and FNBM under the terms of self-executing purchase agreements. The accounts are thereafter sold to a debt buyer. Due to the internal “transfers” and self-executing transactions, it is unlikely to have “account level” documents detailing those internal “transfers”. “

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