FBI investigating Durham firms for phone cramming

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The FBI is asking land-line phone customers across the country to check their bills for phantom charges from more than 20 companies with links to embattled financier Tim Durham.

The request follows a Tuesday FBI raid on Minnesota-based Alternate Billing Corp., which adds charges to customer phone bills on behalf of the companies, purportedly with permission from consumers.

The companies are suspected of cramming, which happens when firms add extra charges to a person's phone bill without authorization. The charges are generally small and easy to overlook since they appear to be one of several fees actually related to the phone service.

Durham has direct ties to several of the companies the FBI names, records show. Among them: eProtectID, Streaming Flix, Durham Technology, MyIProducts, and NeedTheInfo. Most list their home base as the former Chase Tower headquarters of Obsidian Enterprises, a Durham-led buyout firm.

Other companies the FBI names have indirect ties to Durham, as does Alternate Billing, whose president, Cynthia Landeen, received a $284,000 loan from Akron, Ohio-based Fair Finance Co., a Durham-owned firm that collapsed last year.

Records show Fair Finance also made a loan of $365,000 to ABC Corp., a name Alternate Billing has used to describe itself.

Another company involved in the billing is VolCoff LLC, which has ties to Neil Lucas, an Indianapolis attorney who has represented Durham on numerous matters and received at least $145,000 in loans from Fair Finance.

The Durham-led National Lampoon Inc. also is listed as a client of Alternate Billing on the company's website.

Another firm named by the FBI—MyIProducts—listed Durham as its registered agent with the Indiana Secretary of State until June, when it switched the listing to Indianapolis attorney Thomas Collignon.

About 100 people filed complaints about MyIProducts on the consumer advocate site RipoffReport.com from late 2006 through early 2010. The complaints say the company added a $14.95 monthly charge on their AT&T bill for access to a personal 800-number and website to check voice messages, all without asking their permission.

A customer in Alabama said MyIProducts signed up a family member under the name of a long-deceased relative. Another in Texas said her business was signed up with an address that hadn’t been used since 1992.

“They are thieves,” wrote a poster in Los Angeles. “Moral of the story: Check your phone bills.”

An attorney for Durham was not immediately available for comment.

For more than a year, the FBI has been investigating Durham's dealings with Fair Finance, which Durham and a partner acquired in 2002. Records show Durham and business associates drained tens of millions of dollars from the company in the form of loans that have not been repaid. The borrowing left the firm unable to repay more than 5,000 Ohio residents who had purchased more than $200 million in unsecured investment certificates.

Here are the company names the FBI says to look for on your phone bill: 800VMailbox, BusinessSEOPro, Digital VMail, Durham Technology, eProtectID, eSafeId, Identity Holdings, InfoCall, Instant 411, InstantSEOPro, Matchgamepro, Mobile 411 Plus, My411Connect, MyIDSafe, MyIProducts, NeedTheInfo, ProIdentityProtect, Safeguard My Credit, Streaming Flix, Studio 127, Uvolve and VolCoff.

The government has set up an online form to report unauthorized charges here. Victims can also e-mail contact information, documentation and an estimate of loss to telephone.victim@ic.fbi.gov.


  • ...
    it must be tiring, being up all night scurrying about reading the blogs to see who might have outted what.

    It's soooo much easier to simply fess up, go to the Ohio Dept of Securities and tell then how much money you got, that you thought it was free, a gift, whatever, you were on the payroll, it was a loan, whatever the truth is....versus living on this blog.

    There are over 5,200 of us who will not stop until every dime is accounted for. You have yet to see what organized victims can do. Many of us might just show up at speeches to ask questions, where is our money? What was it spent on? What strategies was this person or that person responsibble for? I mean, really, don't you think it'd just be easier to get Tim to turn himself in and remit back to the victims the wasted money he is blowing on retainers for lawyers who cannot save him from such obvious crimes? And for the mooches in the group start selling your toys and pay us back our money. OUR money, not yours LOSERS!!!!
  • regarding the link
    The link works fine for me. Try again.
    • ps
      I really liked your page before you deleted it. I mean, c'mon, I agree that shady finance people should go to the big house! And I agree we should pay our own mortgages! With our money, not money that belongs to other people! And not take advantage of the government mandate to Citi and JPM to stop foreclosures when at the time of foreclosure we haven't paid in like how many months? And federal taxes, too--even tho it's painful one amazing thing about paying taxes is it allows those of us to live in a free country called the United States of America.

      Now you are on that loan list but in fairness to you you say you don't owe a dime. I noticed you have a very nice pool table in your finished basement in that very expensive house you got sued for foreclosure on that you might be snuggled up in your warm toasty bed tonight, but what do I know. I think you could auction that and send the proceeds to Mr. Brian Bash, trustee. I know some elderly folks who worked real hard for their money and need Christmas more than you need a pool table. And that pool table doesn't look like a cheap one, either. How much was that big ol rock you put on your wife's finger? You could sell that, too.

      Why'd you delete your page today? Below is all new viewers get. Darn it! A lot of energy, in my opinion that could be alternatively spent paying the money that Tim claims you owe back to the trustee.

      On your earlier post you asked about criminal versus liar. Either you owe money or Tim is lying. Which is it? This report provided by your best friend to the Ohio Dept of Securities states you owe Fair Finance victims over $100,000.


      And I really liked those pics of you in the Pyramid Coach celebrity bus with your pics and name all down the side in bold graphics. Those will be really nice displays at Tim's trial to show what he did with the money belonging to elderly victims like my elderly relatives.


      You 404â??d it. Gnarly, dude.

      Surfinâ?? ainâ??t easy, and right now, youâ??re lost at sea. But donâ??t worry; simply pick an option from the list below, and youâ??ll be back out riding the waves of the Internet in no time.

      Hit the â??backâ?? button on your browser. Itâ??s perfect for situations like this!

      Head on over to the home page.

    • Did you take your page down?
      that's okay--we knew you would. That's why not only is it printed off, we saved it in pdf format. You know? Cuz ya never know.

      Those with nothing to hide hide nothing. Why remove the page?


      PS--I don't lie. Here it is again, to show you that we saved it.

      â?¦thatâ??s where it comes from
      September 25, 2008

      When I was State FFA President in Indiana a lifetime ago, I was presenting a program on agriculture to an elementary school class in inner-city Indianapolis as part of a photo opportunity for Farm-City Week.

      Hoping to teach the kids the importance of farmers, I confidently started my presentation by asking if they knew â??where hamburger comes from?â?? And, just as confidently, a third grader announced his answer: â??Hamburger comes from McDonaldâ??s.â??

      I was thinking of that story today when watching the news coverage of the federal bailout of bad mortgages and Wall Street.

      As the son of a butcher and grocery store owner, I think itâ??s important to reveal to you (if you didnâ??t already know) that the hamburger you purchase probably didnâ??t come a local farm. More likely than not, itâ??s the product of a huge feedlot a thousand miles away. Perhaps itâ??s even from an enormous ranch half a world away in Australia. Thatâ??s really where hamburger comes from.

      Your mortgage is similar. You probably think of it just like a burger â?? itâ??s a local product. When I was growing up, your mortgage came from the single bank in our home town. You paid your house payment when you cashed your paycheck. And â?? at least in our state â?? banks couldnâ??t even cross state linesâ?¦and, for a time as I recall, even county lines.

      Now, your mortgage is often sold to you by a broker â?? who, in turn, sold it to some other entity located someplace else, who probably packaged it with other loans and sold it againâ?¦and again. That means that, whether you like it or not, your house and the others on your street is quite probably financed by Wall Street no matter where you live.

      I hate what has happened to our economy. Yet, just like everyone else, I didnâ??t want to put any more down on a house than anyone else. I wanted my payments to be as low as possible so I could afford an even bigger house. Being self-employed, I wanted as little hassle as possible in proving my income because I wanted the deal to be painless. Iâ??ve made my payments every time, and on time, but Iâ??m as guilty as about anyone else because I, too, wanted the sweetest deal I could get.

      Weâ??ve got to fix this. And, itâ??s possible that some of the bad guys wonâ??t get what is coming to them as a result. Yet, if credit totally dries up and the economy collapses, you wonâ??t be able to sell your house because no purchaser will get the mortgage they need to buy it. Your employer wonâ??t be able to fund your paycheck and you wonâ??t be able to finance your kidsâ?? college education.

      I want the bad guys and gals from the world of shady finance to get sent to the big house. However, I just donâ??t think enough of us realize that we may have to risk OUR houses if a deal doesnâ??t get done soon in Congress.

      The problem is that we are all involved in this. My mom said often that â??Money doesnâ??t grow on trees.â?? The problem is that, just like hamburger, it also doesnâ??t come from where you think it does.

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      Scott McKain 2 years ago

      I understand your feelings. I've made all my mortgage payments on time...and I agree that greed and "now now now" is at fault.

      Perhaps where our opinions diverge is that I think we're all involved because if you cannot access the funds in your bank accounts because so many people make a run on the banks at the same time, it doesn't matter what your payment history has been.

      If the business you work for fails because the customers it serves can't access credit lines to allow it to manage cash flow effectively in order to pay your invoices promptly, it really doesn't matter what your credit score is -- or if YOU understood the mortgage you signed or not.

      Look, I lived through a farm crisis when good farmers took out big loans in part because the government and university experts told them the price of land and crops were always going to be rising and they should plant "fence row to fence row." When the bottom dropped out, the civil servant and tenured professor kept their jobs -- and my neighbors lost their farms.

      There were certainly "math illiterates" who didn't care to understand what "negative amortization" meant -- and who believed the price of houses were always going to be increasing in value. Just like my farmer/neighbors, they really cannot be totally protected by the system.

      However, this is different, in my opinion.

      This problem is not just isolated to farmers trying to enhance their operations or home buyers biting off more than they could chew. This truly has the potential to bring enormous upheaval to our financial system. It will impact everyone, in one way or another, and especially those who can least afford it.

      To "cut off our nose to spite our face" seems to me to be wrong approach. I hate what greed and ignorance has done here. But, it has been done. To make the victim suffer more to punish the guilty seems wrong for the country.
    • re
      Obviously, Scott (or friend) you did not take Logic. One does not have to be one or the other--I believe the post clearly states you stopped paying your mortgage shortly after the FBI raided your company, Obsiidan. According to the Hamilton County Courthouse that appears to be a fact, along with the reality that you have at least two IRS tax liens from 2007 and 2009 recorded, which is why the US Attorney was also served. Public records are what they are, and anyone can look those up."

      When you hold yourself out to be a public figure, which you clearly have, and use that position to promote an agenda that now is publicly believed to be questionable, well, as they say when you promote yourself to be so important and enjoy the accolades along the way remember something: what goes into print never dies.

      Remember this?

      your own words: "I want the bad guys and gals from the world of shady finance to get sent to the big house. However, I just donâ??t think enough of us realize that we may have to risk OUR houses if a deal doesnâ??t get done soon in Congress.

      The problem is that we are all involved in this. My mom said often that â??Money doesnâ??t grow on trees.â?? The problem is that, just like hamburger, it also doesnâ??t come from where you think it does."

      and this?

      "I understand your feelings. I've made all my mortgage payments on time...and I agree that greed and "now now now" is at fault. "
      • Monday observations
        Good morning. This is interesting commentary. I did notice this still online:

        As the Vice Chairman of Obsidian Enterprises (NASDAQ:OTC:OBSD) â?? recently named one of the nation's "fastest growing public companies" and owner of several diverse manufacturing and service businesses â?? the insight Scott McKain brings to the platform is powerful and the strategies he presents are profound.

        Scott McKain's calling is business leadership...and he demonstrates this every day in the diverse companies he helps direct....

        If it is important that your speaker has practical, in-depth, real world business experience...select Scott McKain.

        Perhaps Mr. McKain can articulate exactly what it is he helped direct?

      • Liar or criminal?
        While I do not approve of Durham's actions, I also cannot approve of lies or criminal activity from other parties, either.

        You say this guy hasn't paid his mortgage at all. How do you know?

        Subsequent payments wouldn't be a part of public record. If you know he hasn't paid, you are illegally monitoring his activity. If you say he hasn't paid, and don't know, you are a liar.

        Liens are filed not because you haven't paid ANY taxes, but because you haven't paid ALL your taxes. How do you know how much he has, or hasn't, paid?

        If you claim you know and you don't, you are a liar. If you do know, you are illegally getting into this guy's tax records. Maybe he's making payments. You don't know.

        You don't make your point by being either a criminal breaking the law or a liar claiming stuff you don't know.

        Which are you?
        • Do you mean this Scott
          Wow, did anyone see this? It appears Scott McKain (real name D Scott McKain which stands for Dallas Scott McKain) stopped paying his mortgage on his $1Million house right after the FBI raided Fair Finance and Obsidian Enterprises.

          Case No. 29C01-1004-MF-001026
          JPMorgan Chase Bank NA vs. D MCKain,United States of America,United States of Americaet al �§

          Case Type: MF - Mortgage Foreclosure
          Date Filed: 04/23/2010
          Location: Hamilton Circuit Courts

          Here is a second example of the Scott you might be referring to. Scott brags of his strategy success at Obsidian and at Pyramid Coach, the provider of the celebrity coach Scott tooled around in with his name boldly emblazoned in graphics on the side. (Somehow I don't think Scott ever paid for this.) In this book Scott claims Pyramid is more profitable than ever! Only he forgets to mention at the time of writing/publication Pyramid was closed due to the death of gospel singer Dottie Rambo! So much for profitable Pyramid. So much for profitable anything associated with Tim and Scott--with the exception of the two spectacularly timed trades on Brightpoint and Cellstar. Wonder how that happened, huh.

          Last, according to the foreclosure filing Mr. Mckain had also not paid his taxes to the IRS. Don't we all wish we could just not pay our taxes. Wonder what his tax bill would aggregate to if the IRS figured in all the freebies he got from Timmy.

        • Laughting Hangman
          Would that be the same Scott who does public speaking?
        • Laughing
          If there is any humor in any of this, it is knowing that Carl, Tim, Jackie, Scott and the rest of the mooches are slowly realizing the hangman's noose is cooked. What is not funny is those whose life savings funded their egregiously outrageous lifestyles.
          • Switched to wireless in '08
            I switched to wireless in 2008. Will phone companies provide records from back then?

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          1. I never thought I'd see the day when a Republican Mayor would lead the charge in attempting to raise every tax we have to pay. Now it's income taxes and property taxes that Ballard wants to increase. And to pay for a pre-K program? Many studies have shown that pre-K offer no long-term educational benefits whatsoever. And Ballard is pitching it as a way of fighting crime? Who is he kidding? It's about government provided day care. It's a shame that we elected a Republican who has turned out to be a huge big spending, big taxing, big borrowing liberal Democrat.

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