United Financial Systems, Inc. and its principal, Christopher Boulahanis, have agreed to pay refunds to 500 consumers as part of a settlement with the Florida Attorney General's Office. Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi began an investigation when consumers complained the Florida-based company failed to provide refunds it had promised.

Consumers like Ann, of Virginia Beach, Va., said they had kept up their end of he bargain but United Financial had not.

"My experience with United Financial Systems was horrible," Ann told ConsumerAffairs.com. "They took my money from my checking account and did not pay my creditors for four months. I am out approximately $1600.00, plus they charged me a $60.00 fee each month to rob me. I had to make payment arrangements with the creditors, plus pay the company I am now with, to carry on the agreement I had with UFS. I just want my money back. I am retired and can ill afford to lose that kind of money."

$595,000 in refunds

The agreement with the state of Florida requires the company to refund approximately 500 consumers more than $595,000 in restitution in total.

“The people who sought financial relief from this debt consolidation company were already facing difficult financial times, which were exacerbated when the company failed to refund their money. I am pleased that we are helping 500 consumers receive nearly $600,000 in restitution,” Bondi said.

The settlement contains a strict enforcement mechanism such that any failure to make timely payments by United Financial Systems will result in a court ordered judgment against the company and its principals for the full amount of refunds due plus an additional $500,000 in civil penalties. The settlement also precludes the company and its representatives from engaging in credit counseling, debt management or debt consolidation in Florida.

How to get reimbursed

Consumers who have money coming to them will get it from the Office of the Florida Attorney General in two payments: a partial payment March 31, 2012, and a final pro rata payment Sept. 30, 2012. All affected consumers must submit a sworn affidavit documenting the amount of their loss postmarked by Jan. 20, 2012.

Any consumers who were defrauded by United Financial Systems should contact the Florida Attorney General’s Office immediately if they have not submitted an affidavit in this matter. Consumers can download an affidavit form.

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