Mobile Banking App Banned | Sticky Life Alert Contracts | Casino Pays Price For Misleading Regulators

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2023 AG Elections

Candidates Ready to Vie for Louisiana Attorney General’s Office Should Incumbent Not Seek Reelection

  • Louisiana Third District Attorney John Belton announced his plans to run for Louisiana AG if incumbent AG Jeff Landry does not seek reelection. Belton is not currently affiliated with a political party.
  • If he runs, Belton may face Republican State Representative John Stefanski, who announced in January 2021 his plan to seek the AG’s office should Landry run for governor.
  • For more AG election news, insights, and polls visit Cozen O’Connor’s State AG Election Tracker.

State AGs in the News

Missouri Attorney General Announces Candidacy for U.S. Senate

  • Missouri AG Eric Schmitt announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring Missouri Senator Roy Blunt.
  • AG Schmitt, the second Republican to enter the race, will face a primary contest with former Missouri Governor Eric Greitens, who announced his candidacy earlier this month.
  • AG Schmitt was appointed to the office of AG in 2018 to succeed former AG Josh Hawley after Hawley won his U.S. Senate race.

A New Attorney General for New Hampshire

  • John Formella was confirmed as New Hampshire AG by a 4-1 vote of the Executive Council.
  • AG Formella previously served as counsel to New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu, prior to which he practiced business, environmental, and land use law at a Portsmouth, NH firm.
  • As previously reported, former New Hampshire AG Gordon MacDonald vacated the AG’s office earlier this year, shortly before being confirmed as Chief Justice of the state Supreme Court.

Consumer Protection

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Rules that Consumer Protection Law Only Actionable Against Sellers

  • The Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued a decision constraining the scope of the state’s Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law (“UTPCPL”), resulting in dismissal of UTPCPL claims brought by the Pennsylvania AG’s Office against oil and gas companies.
  • In its 6-1 decision in Commonwealth v. Chesapeake Energy, et. al, No. 81 MAP 2019, the Court held that the appellants’ business practices in purchasing natural gas leases from landowners are not actionable under the UTPCPL, because the UTPCPL only regulates the conduct of sellers, not buyers. Having held that the UTPCPL is inapplicable, the Court declined to reach the second question presented on appeal, which asked whether claims sounding in antitrust are actionable under the UTPCPL.
  • The Supreme Court’s decision overturns an appellate ruling by the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court upholding the trial court’s denial of motions to dismiss by the appellants.

“Help! I’ve Fallen, and I Can’t Get Out of This Contract!”: Life Alert Allegedly Failed to Alert Consumers to Their Cancellation Rights

  • New York AG Letitia James reached a settlement with personal emergency response company Life Alert Emergency Response, Inc. (“Life Alert”) to resolve allegations that it failed to provide customers with service contract cancellation options required by law, in violation of New York consumer protection laws.
  • According to the assurance of discontinuance, Life Alert required customer to sign a 36-month monitoring service agreement that did not include certain mandatory cancellation provisions required by New York law, which specify that emergency response companies must notify consumers, both verbally and as a written provision in the agreement, of their right to cancel the agreement within seven days of receiving the notice. According to the AG’s office, more than 16,000 New York consumers were not given these notices and Life Alert refused to cancel contracts when consumers requested the cancellation to which they were entitled.
  • Under the terms of the assurance of discontinuance, Life Alert must offer refunds to affected consumers; pay the state $750,000 in penalties, costs, and fees; send notices to all current New York customers who are in the first 36 months of their contracts to notify them of their right to cancel their contracts immediately; update its customer agreements and employee training; and promptly investigate and address consumer complaints, among other things.

Financial Industry

Mobile Banking App Settles Allegations It Misled Consumers Regarding Access to Their Funds, Interest Rates

  • The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) reached a settlement with mobile banking app operator Beam Financial Inc. and its founder and CEO (collectively, “Beam Financial”) to resolve allegations that Beam Financial made false and misleading marketing promises in violation of the FTC Act.
  • The complaint alleged that Beam Financial promised users they would have constant access to their funds and earn high interest rates on their accounts of between 0.2 and 1.0 percent. In reality, users waited weeks or months to receive their money after requesting transfers out of their Beam Financial accounts, and many new users received interest rates as low as 0.04 percent and stopped earning any interest after requesting fund withdrawals.
  • Under the terms of the stipulated order, Beam Financial must fully refund the amounts, including interest, held in customer accounts, which total at least $2.6 million. In addition, Beam Financial is banned from operating products or services that can be used to move or store funds, including mobile banking apps, among other things.

Gaming/Gambling

Casino Agrees to $5.3 Million Penalty for Failing to Disclose Bank Secrecy Act Violations to Gambling Regulators

  • The California Department of Justice reached a settlement with casino operator Artichoke Joe’s and related entities and individuals (collectively, “Artichoke Joe’s”) to resolve allegations that it misled gambling regulators and failed to disclose admitted violations of the federal Bank Secrecy Act in violation of the California Gambling Control Act.
  • The second amended accusation filed with the California Gambling Commission alleged that Artichoke Joe’s Casino failed to inform gambling regulators of a federal Financial Crimes Enforcement Network investigation that led to the casino’s admission of failing to implement and maintain an effective anti-money laundering program, and failing to detect, deter, and timely report many suspicious transactions such as loan-sharking.
  • Under the terms of the settlement, Artichoke Joe’s will pay a penalty of $5.3 million and $50,000 in costs to the Bureau of Gambling Control. In addition, Artichoke Joe’s gambling license will be contingent upon meeting the terms of the settlement, including implementing an anti-money laundering program, hiring an independent consultant to review the anti-money laundering program, and certifying in writing its compliance with the terms of the agreement every 90 days, among other things.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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