Duress for Success™

Posted June 12th, 2007 by Joe Kaiser

Ugh, not under duress? He's the under duress poster boy.

Dear Rob,

What’s the easiest way to put a deal together?

Just use the power of duress! By applying pressure on your “mark,” you can close deals like magic. Trust me, that poor sap will crack like an egg.

Readers may wonder, what’s duress? Here’s the def:

duress |d(y)oŏˈres|
threats, violence, constraints, or other action brought to bear on someone to do something against their will or better judgment: confessions extracted under duress.
• Law constraint illegally exercised to force someone to perform an act.
• archaic forcible restraint or imprisonment.
ORIGIN Middle English (in the sense ‘harshness, severity, cruel treatment’ ): via Old French from Latin duritia, from durus ‘hard.’

Used regularly and applied judiciously (pun is so intended), it’s a thing of beauty.

threats of financial ruin

Now, don’t get me wrong.

I am not suggesting a real estate investor use duress or make it a part of his arsenal. Clearly, forcing people into deals they wouldn’t otherwise do, out of threats of financial ruin or other legal actions, is a terrible thing.

Still, when it works, you gotta admit it’s pretty damn slick.

Here’s an example of duress in action…

My partner, having done nothing wrong, settled with your office in this matter for upwards of half a million dollars.

Did I mention, having done nothing wrong?

Why would anyone settle if he’s truly done nothing wrong?

Good question.

Good answer?

“Under duress.”

the only reason he signed

Oh sure, I know the agreement he signed says he was not under duress and if you want to pretend that’s the way it went down, fine. But as a spectator with a front-row seat, I can tell you the ONLY reason he signed was the duress he was placed under by your office, Rob.

Turns out, those schemesters, er, staffers, don’t need evidence of wrongdoing to get someone to decide settling is their best option.

With the power of the State behind you, it seems, evidence of wrongdoing is a mere formality and as such not really necessary. Heck, why bother with evidence at all when you can play the “Duress for Success™ card?”

Duress for Success™ – Step One, “Value the Case.”

Any idea what your office deems this case to be worth, Rob?

If I told you millions and millions of dollars, would you be surprised?

Try tens of millions.

Readers, here’s how a restitution play works in the Office of the Attorney General:

“You’ve mailed how many letters, Mr. Kaiser?”

“Thousands. Heck, I mailed 24 thousand postcards just last month,” I say, watching the wheels turn slowly as the AAG across the table does her math.


Each letter and postcard is said to be deceptive and each, a violation of the Consumer Protection Act carrying a $2,000 fine. Without blinking an eye we’re already up to $50,000,000.

But they’re just warming up.

Duress for Success™ – Step Two, “Make Outrageous Demands.”

“We’ll require you provide us full accounting for all the transactions you’ve done over the last four years and we’ll expect you to return any and all profits you’ve made to the sellers you scammed.”

“So, it’s fifty mil, plus the last four year’s profits?”

“We’re not done.”

“Yeah, I kinda figured.”

“You also have 25 or 30 deals where you’ve partnered up with people and now hold a 50% interest in their homes. We’ll need you to deed your interest in those properties back to the sellers you scammed.”

“Okay, let me get this straight. Fifty million, plus all the profits from all the transactions for the last four years, plus deed back all the millions in equity from all the properties we saved from foreclosure by partnering up with the owners?”

“You got it.”

Oh, I so get it.

Duress for Success™ – Step Three, “Deliver the Punchline”

“Or, if you’ll agree to never do another deal like the ones you’ve been doing, we’ll allow you out of this lawsuit for “only” $600,000.00. Oh, and you’ll have to say there was no duress involved to get you to settle.”

And settle is exactly what my partner did.

No, no duress happening there (sarcasm intended).

Deciding this his safest way out, he agreed to settle, pay what ultimately amounts to something in the neighborhood of half a million dollars, and be done with it. Yes, even though he’d done nothing wrong.

Ugh, not under duress?

He’s the under duress poster boy.

it’s all a big game

AAG’s with the power of the State behind them can make threats and demands, knowing that’s all it takes to get people to roll over.

Everybody, it turns out, settles.

Okay, not everyone, but when faced with $50,000,000+ threats, you think long and hard about doing whatever it takes to make that beast go away.

This is the very definition of duress and it’s abhorrent.

Why is it okay for your office to use these tactics?

The end justifies the means? Or, do it in the name of Consumer Protectionism and it’s all good, maybe?

yuck, yuck, yuck

Rob, in a discussion between lawyers prior to my partner’s deposition, your AAG’s joked with my lawyer about the recent restitution plays they’d knocked down.

“Fifty thousand?” one gal said, “Heck no, I got seventy-five out of that guy!”

Sadly, your people think that’s a riot.

(Yucks provided courtesy of the Office of the Washington State Attorney General, copyright 2007, all rights reserved.)


Joe Kaiser

3 Responses to: “Duress for Success™”

  1. DaveD responds:
    Posted: June 12th, 2007 at 7:29 am

    Hey Rob!

    As an AG, you hold a lot of discretion over what kinds of cases and enforcement actions you take on. Wouldn’t it be helpful if you at least had a COMPLAINT from someone who got hosed, and some EVIDENCE to back it up?

    To the rest of us, your outrage seems awfully selective when you file a twenty-something million dollar lawsuit against Joe. Without even blushing? Are you suggesting that ALL of his business was somehow unethical, illegal and immoral? Why twenty million? Why so charitable? Since you are so far out there in fantasy land, why not just round it up to a hundred million?

    Here is the thing. How can Joe move forward in his business when you have slapped him and his entities with such an obnoxious figure? Where’s the due process? You are not only slandering him with your press releases, but nuking his existing business. Who is going to lend to him when they see a $20MM lawsuit? It is ruinous to any small business.

    But that is the point, isn’t it? You don’t think he should even be allowed to play! Because somehow you think his success unfairly came out of the hides of others? You need some perspective, dude. Last time I looked, attorneys on contingency were soaking their sponsors for 25-33% of the booty. I ask, where is the equity here? Oh, yeah, you are a lawyer too. All in the same club. Then, of course, the marks. The guys who have to buckle under and pay, thanks to lawyers wielding the same clubs you so effortless use without any hint of conscious.

    Last time I looked, the State of Washington is still a part of the USA. We still frown on Gestapo tactics here. We resent shakedowns and intimidation reminiscent of organized crime. That sort of thing outrages folks. The truth is coming out.

    You, Mr. AG have stepped in it, and you have stepped in it all by yourself. Joe has been a gentleman throughout this whole fiasco. I’m thinking a little more circumspection… and a lot less ego is called for. You are sinking… fast!


  2. JT Brofft responds:
    Posted: June 12th, 2007 at 3:24 pm

    ” victims of a rogue prosecutor’s “tragic rush to accuse.”

    “This didn’t have to happen,”

    “It took this case out of the court system and deposited it into the hands of the public,”

    “I do believe the community was inflamed because of those comments.”

    “The harm done to this… man and… families and the justice system… is devastating,”

    “making misleading and inflammatory comments about the def”


    All comments and quotes from day one of the N.C. State Bar hearing of Mike Nifong, former Durham Co. Prosecutor.

    Apparently there IS oversight… even for Attorneys. One will have to struggle to take NO delight in watching the outcome of the N.C. case. I wonder if the AAG staff is watching these proceedings…?

  3. David responds:
    Posted: June 14th, 2007 at 9:49 am

    Sad how the court systems have become the vicsious tools of individuals seeking to sink their hands into deep pockets withoutt effort!
    We can thank the thousands of ethicless, visionless, greedy attorneys whom chose to be involved of these destructive practices

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