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Illinois Attorney General
Kwame Raoul

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January 19, 2024

Lawsuit Alleges Debt-Relief Enterprise Illegally Collected More Than $100 Million in Fees from Financially Struggling Families

Chicago — Attorney General Kwame Raoul joined the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and six state attorneys general in filing a lawsuit against Strategic Financial Solutions (SFS) and its web of shell companies for running an illegal debt-relief enterprise. The CFPB and state attorneys general also sued the chief architects of the alleged illegal enterprise, Ryan Sasson and Jason Blust.

The lawsuit, which was unsealed today, alleges that the enterprise collected hundreds of millions of dollars in illegal fees from vulnerable consumers while providing little, if any, debt-relief services.

 Raoul, the CFPB and the attorneys general filed the complaint and requested a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York on Jan. 10, 2024. The court granted this request to order a stop to the enterprise’s illegal actions and entered a temporary restraining order with an asset freeze on Jan. 11, 2024. The suit is also seeking redress for consumers and a civil money penalty.

 “Consumers who are struggling financially and trying to pay down their debt need real help, not false promises and predatory fees,” Raoul said. “I would like to thank the CFPB for their continuous partnership as we work to protect the public from fraud and deceptive business practices.”

Strategic Financial Solutions markets itself as providing debt relief services. It has offices in New York City and Buffalo, New York. Ryan Sasson is the chief executive officer of SFS. SFS sits at the top of a web of shell companies and façade law firms, which are controlled by Sasson and fellow scheme architect Jason Blust. Blust is based in Illinois. Both he and Sasson are former employees of Legal Helpers Debt Resolution LLC (Legal Helpers), a debt-relief firm that was sued and eventually shut down as a result of action taken by the attorneys general of Illinois, Wisconsin, North Carolina and West Virginia.

“The operators of this scheme established a network of shell companies and law firms to hide their illegal activities from law enforcement,” said CFPB Director Rohit Chopra. “The CFPB and state attorneys general are seeking to shut down this outfit's illegal activity.”

The company uses third parties to target financially vulnerable consumers with advertisements for loans to help pay down debts. When consumers call the advertised number, SFS employees do not offer the advertised loans, and, instead, encourage consumers to enroll in debt-relief services. SFS promises that its network of law firms and lawyers will negotiate lower debt amounts. SFS requires customers to make immediate payments into an escrow account. However, long before it settles any debts, SFS collects its own fees from the escrow account. 

Raoul, the CFPB and the attorneys general allege the actions of SFS violate the Telemarketing Sales Rule. Specifically, the complaint alleges that SFS harms consumers by:

  • Charging illegal, advance fees: SFS charges and collects fees before any of a consumer’s debts have been settled. SFS charges pre-determined fee amounts without any connection to actual settlements or debt-relief savings. Since 2016, SFS and its façade firms have collected over $100 million from consumers.

  • Falsely claiming lawyers will provide debt relief: SFS leads consumers to think that contracted law firms will negotiate lower payoff amounts. However, the firms serve as a façade, and SFS and its employees, who are not lawyers, conduct the debt-relief negotiations, if any take place.

 Under the Consumer Financial Protection Act, the CFPB has the authority to take action against nonbank financial institutions, including debt-relief companies, for violating consumer financial protection laws and rules, including the Telemarketing Sales Rule. Consumers can submit complaints about financial products and services by visiting the CFPB’s website or by calling (855) 411-CFPB (2372). Employees who believe their companies have violated federal consumer financial protection laws are encouraged to send information about what they know to

 If you believe you have been the victim of fraud, Raoul encourages you to file a complaint on the Attorney General’s website. Consumers can also call one of the Attorney General’s Consumer Fraud Hotlines:

1-800-386-5438 (Chicago)
1-800-243-0618 (Springfield) 
1-800-243-0607 (Carbondale)
1-866-310-8398 (Spanish-language hotline)

 Raoul and the CFPB were joined in filing the lawsuit by the attorneys general of Colorado, Delaware, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina and Wisconsin.