Eric Dean Phillips, 58, Riverside, California, was sentenced for his role in a scheme to defraud clients of Georggin Law, formerly located in Carlsbad, California, who were seeking to repair their credit histories.
District Judge Michael M. Anello imposed a sentence of 33 months in custody on Phillips, who victims at the hearing described as a “predator.”
Phillips helped create Georggin Law in 2010—despite the fact that he is not an attorney and has never been licensed to practice law—and claimed that the firm could provide credit repair services to clients attempting to purchase real estate.
Phillips falsely represented to potential clients that he had been at Georggin Law for 34 years, that he was an attorney, and that he had a California bar number. Phillips gave presentations at real estate agents’ offices, targeting individuals who hoped to buy homes but had poor credit scores due to a prior short sale or foreclosure. During these sales pitches, Phillips claimed that Georggin Law could file lawsuits in small claims courts and have prior short sales and foreclosures removed from clients’ credit reports. In addition to lying about his history and qualifications, Phillips also falsely claimed that Georggin had won more than 600 victories in small claims courts, had a 100 percent success rate, and had never lost a case. Phillips also promised a “money back guarantee,” despite the fact that Georggin Law maintained little or no money to actually refund unsatisfied clients.
Phillips admitted that Georggin defrauded more than 250 clients using such false statements and that he personally pocketed at least $150,000 from the scheme.
According to the State Bar of California, the attorney nominally affiliated with Georggin Law, Ernest George Georggin, has agreed to surrender his law license and pay restitution to certain clients of the firm.
Victims of Phillips’ scheme addressed the court at today’s sentencing hearing. One man, who has been a firefighter for 34 years, spoke about how devastating it was to have been victimized by Phillips. He said he had withdrawn money from his retirement savings to pay Georggin Law’s fees, but after paying over the money, he could not get any calls back from the firm. Another victim described a similar experience, explaining that Phillips promptly called her back when she was ready to pay the fees but then failed to return her calls thereafter. Both described Phillips as a “predator.” Other victims sent written statements to the court, describing Phillips as a “habitual liar [who told] us that he was an attorney,” “smart, cunning, and very convincing,” and a “man selling snake oil.” One man from La Mesa wrote to the court, “I was abused by the credit report system, then further abused by Mr. Phillips who did nothing for two years after taking my money.” As a man from San Diego explained, “Eric Phillips pretended to be an attorney and guaranteed our money back….Buying a home here in San Diego is expensive enough….But add in a criminal like Eric Phillips…makes a tough situation even worse….He is a smooth talker with a smile that lures clients in and banks on your trust.”
Phillips will next appear before Judge Anello on April 14, 2014, for a determination of how much restitution he will be ordered to pay the victims of his scheme.
United States Attorney Laura E. Duffy announced the sentence.