Marketing Guru / american express & stroock & stroock & lavan
2017 started out to be a pretty decent year…
Life was good I was training, blogging, and of course always working on ways I can make gym junkies bigger, better and continue to help people all across the globe.
But that all changed when I received a call on January 20th from my merchant processor, "sorry man we can no longer process payments for any of your companies anymore."
I was placed on something called "MATCH" or "TMF" short for Terminated Merchant File.
I remember kind of chuckling, there's got to be some mistake. I was familiar with TMF but that was for companies or individuals who had excessive chargebacks, excessive fraud or were involved in money laundering.
Nothing I was even close to being involved in anyway shape or form. [continued below]...
After some serious digging around I had found out a company called American Express had placed me on this list. What in the hell, this further perplexed me.
I was at the time I was an American Express cardholder; I had a good rapport with them, paid my bills on time and enjoyed card benefits.
But why in the hell did American Express place my companies and me on this list?
After pounding the phone lines for literally days…YES, DAYS… I finally got a morsel of information.
Vicky Trutti at [protected] stated the reason was for "violation of standards" and the merchant ID # attached to it was [protected]**. She also confirmed there was no financial loss and this merchant account was opened in 2014!
Of course with this small bit information, I dug through my records and found the merchant account they were referring to.
We processed a whopping $4, 000 and closed the account. This obviously further confused me considering the actual volume was so low and there were no issues. It was clearly about as low risk as you can get and I requested this merchant account to be shut down over 3 years ago!
Ok, what the HELL is going on I thought…
At this point, I went round and round with American Express with more or less 0 answers while my honorable marketing company and this great fitness blog gym junkies slowly descended into the gutter.
Since I could not charge users and clients for services, I had literally no way of making an income.
To be clear, American Express's placement of me and my company on this MATCH list eviscerated my ability to accept MasterCards and Visa payments. So by its actions, American Express cut my ability to accept ANY credit card payments.
With irregular cash flow, my business took a nose dive, my ability to make standard payments for everything was reduced and my credit score tanked as a result.
That's about the time I had enough playing patty cake with the customer service agents over there at American Express and hired my attorney, Eugene Rome at http://romeandassociates.com/. His firm specializes in payment processing so I figured he could connect with American Express, explain the issues and resolve the clear misunderstanding.
American Express came around pretty quickly and through its first smiling sleazebag, Tony Diab from the law firm Shook Hardy and Bacon (http://www.shb.com/professionals/d/diab-tony, 949.975.1726) said, hey let's try and work this out.
American Express takes responsibility for its actions.
What do you guys want?
My attorney explained that we could not figure out why I was placed on MATCH and in response to Tony's invitation sent out 5 written questions and 4 requests for documents asking American Express to explain why I was placed on MATCH.
We'll answer your questions, Tony said, and we can then resolve the case.
That turned out to be complete B.S.
They waited 30 days and objected to everything. Tony suddenly disappeared. But, Shook Hardy and Bacon put another lawyer on it - Siena Caruso. (https://www.linkedin.com/in/siena-caruso-0740618b;
According to Caruso, Tony was taken off the case because he had mishandled our discussions.
Not to worry, she was going to correct things.
Conveniently she did not want to discuss anything by email with my attorney.
She even got a partner from Shook involved, Paul LaScala (http://www.shb.com/professionals/l/la-scala-paul; 949.475.1500).
Paul too refused to put anything in writing but kept repeating the same B.S. mantra - our client wants to work it out.
Next thing we know, Shook Hardy and Bacon are out and American Express's "A-Team" is in. We hear that Stroock Lavan(http://www.stroock.com/) is representing American Express.
And, guess what - they also want to work it out???
They also are asking the judge for extensions because they claim to need time to understand things from the client and because somehow the hurricane in Florida is preventing its representatives in Arizona from signing and reviewing documents.
Judge gives it to them.
Well, long story short…
Eventually, my attorneys discovery leads to me finding out that someone stole my identity and opened up supplementary cards (http://www.moneycontrol.com/glossary/credit-cards/supplementary-card_15.html) under my name using a fake social security #(YES FAKE). Charged a ton of stuff on them and then charged backed (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chargeback) the transactions.
Oh but don't worry about my livelihood or my companies…
American Express could have simply called and asked me to verify if this was indeed me.
But they didn't….
They would rather proceed with the nuclear approach and destroy the small business owner's life for absolutely no reason.
Oh but don't worry they will fix there mistake right?
I mean it's American Express here, I mean they state on their website awarded for customer service "DEDICATED TO YOU".
American Express's new ace team of smiling sleazebags Marcos Sasso (http://www.stroock.com/people/MSasso, https://twitter.com/mdsasso21, [protected]) and Erick Kuylman (http://www.stroock.com/people/EKuylman; https://twitter.com/erickkuylman, [protected]) acknowledge that someone other than me added me as a supplemental card holder.
They also said the social security numbers for the account weren't even right.
So, whoever opened it up didn't even have my correct information. They had NO EVIDENCE that I was even involved in the suspicious activity.
Even Federico Perez-Irizarry(https://www.linkedin.com/in/federicoperezirizarry/) the American Express Representative there that day confirmed all of this…
But, how about take me off MATCH?
American Express decided to double down. Drop the lawsuit or we will ask the judge to put the case in arbitration and, even if she says "no" we'll tie it up in appeals for next two years and crush you into the ground.
But, guess what, there is more, we will also file four separate lawsuits against you just to show you that we mean business.
They did just that…
Different American Express companies filed four lawsuits against me. All to collect some tiny balances I could not pay right away because American Express destroyed my business.
I looked at Kuylman and Sasso's life on Twitter.
Don't worry; their lives are just fine.
They are happy as clams, enjoying their lives while grinding mine into the ground because I had the audacity to be the victim of identity theft.
WHAT A STELLAR COMPANY!