Investing in Bitcoin – Cryptocurrencies

Clients have been asking me about investing in Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies.  The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently provided some helpful advice.  ftc-seal

You do your best to keep up with the latest financial news. You’ve been hearing more about cryptocurrencies and asking yourself “Hmmm.” Of course, it’s not just Bitcoin. There are now hundreds of cryptocurrencies, which are a type of digital currency, on the market. They’ve been publicized as a fast and inexpensive way to pay online, but many are now also being marketed as investment opportunities. But before you decide to purchase cryptocurrency as an investment, here are a few things to consider:

  • Cryptocurrencies aren’t backed by a government or central bank. Unlike most traditional currencies, such as the dollar or yen, the value of a cryptocurrency is not tied to promises by a government or a central bank.
  • If you store your cryptocurrency online, you don’t have the same protections as a bank account. Holdings in online “wallets” are not insured by the government like U.S. bank deposits are.
  • A cryptocurrency’s value can change constantly and dramatically. An investment that may be worth thousands of dollars on Tuesday could be worth only hundreds on Wednesday. If the value goes down, there’s no guarantee it will rise again.
  • Nothing about cryptocurrencies makes them a foolproof investment. Just like with any investment opportunity, there are no guarantees.
  • No one can guarantee you’ll make money off your investment. Anyone who promises you a guaranteed return or profit is likely scamming you. Just because the cryptocurrency is well-known or has celebrities endorsing it doesn’t mean it’s a good investment.
  • Not all cryptocurrencies or the companies behind them are the same. Before you decide to invest in a cryptocurrency, look into the claims the company is making. Do an internet search with the name of the company and the cryptocurrency with words like review, scam, or complaint. Look through several pages of search results.

Read more about Investing Online.

Want to learn more about the technology underlying cryptocurrencies? See my earlier blog post Blockchain Technology Overview

If you or your business have legal questions or concerns regarding computer law, privacy, or cybersecurity law matters, contact attorney Jeffrey A. Franklin at Prince Law Offices.


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New PA Hunting Law Precludes Revocation of Hunting Licenses

Yesterday, Governor Wolf signed HB 359 into law, which will take effect in 60 days and provides protections for hunters, (1) where they mistakenly kill a bear or elk, (2) where they are erroneously hunting in the wrong area and take a game animal that is out of season, and (3) where the hunter is current on a payment plan established by a court.

Currently, in relation to revocation of hunting privilege, Section 930 provides:

All privileges granted by this title shall automatically be suspended if a defendant fails to respond to a citation or summons within 60 days or fails to pay all penalties in full within 180 days following conviction.

As a result of HB 359, Section 930 will now have a subsection (b), which provides:

(b) Payment Plan – If a Defendant is enrolled in a payment plan to repay penalties mandated by a court of competent jurisdiction and the defendant is making regular payments in accordance with the court’s mandate, the privileges of this title may not be suspended.

Also, Section 2306 – Killing game or wildlife by mistake – has been amended by including restitution amounts of $100.00 for any bear or elk that is mistakenly killed.

More importantly, Section 2742 – Period of Revocation – has been amended with a new subsection (c), which provides:

(c) Clemency from revocation.–The commission shall not revoke the privilege to hunt or take game or wildlife anywhere in this Commonwealth for an unlawful taking or possession of game or wildlife violation if all of the following conditions are met:
(1) The unlawful taking or possession of game or wildlife violation is the person’s first unlawful taking or possession of game or wildlife offense.
(2) The person complies with all of the procedural requirements set forth in section 2306(b)(1), (2) or (3) (relating to killing game or wildlife by mistake) concerning removal of entrails, tagging, reporting, delivery of carcass and providing a written, sworn statement.

(3) The unlawful taking of game or wildlife violation occurs during: (i) an open season within the applicable wildlife management unit for the species involved; or (ii) a closed season within the applicable wildlife management unit for the species involved, but only if there was an open season within an adjacent wildlife management unit for the same species.

(4) The person pleads guilty to the applicable unlawful taking or possession of game or wildlife violation charged.

(5) The unlawful taking or possession of game or wildlife violation does not involve a threatened or endangered species.

(6) There are no relevant aggravating circumstances present concerning the unlawful taking or possession of game or wildlife violation.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a game violation, contact Firearms Industry Consulting Group today to discuss YOUR rights and legal options.


Firearms Industry Consulting Group® (FICG®) is a registered trademark and division of Civil Rights Defense Firm, P.C., with rights and permissions granted to Prince Law Offices, P.C. to use in this article.



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The 3rd Circuit holds debtors may sue creditors who offer to settle time-barred debt under the FDCPA.

Recently, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, rendered an opinion in the class action, Michelle Tatis vs. Allied Interstate, LLC: John Does 1-25, No. 16-4022, clarifying whether time-barred offers from creditors to settle old obligations violated the Fair Debt Collection Practice Act (“FDCPA”). On appeal, the 3rd Circuit reversed a decision by the United States District Court for the District Of New Jersey granting Defendant’s Motion To Dismiss suit. Plaintiff, Michelle Tatis, commenced a class action suit against Defendant, Allied Interstate, LLC, alleging that a collection letter sent by Allied offering to settle her time-barred debt violated the FDCPA’s prohibition against using “any false, deceptive, or misleading representations or means in connection with the collection of any debt.” See 15 U.S.C. § 1692e. Tatis had a ten year old debt of $1,289.86 owed to Bally Total Fitness which Allied sought to collect by sending a letter offering to settle the obligation for pennies on the dollar.

In the state of New Jersey, the statute of limitations to commence a debt collection action is six years. Pennsylvania has a four year statute of limitations to commence a debt collection action. What that means is that if the 6 years, or 4 years in Pennsylvania, has passed since a debtor defaulted on his/her obligation to pay his/her debt, a creditor cannot sue the debtor to recover the debt. It does not mean that a creditor cannot offer to settle and that a debtor cannot voluntarily agree to repay the debt. A debtor may voluntarily agree to repay the obligation for personal reasons or a desire to honor the obligation. However, there is no legal threat to the debtor after the statute of limitations has passed. Whether or not an offer to settle misrepresents the legal status of a time-barred obligation is the focus of the 3rd Circuit’s Opinion.

In Tatis, Allied sent a letter after the statute of limitations had run stating: “[The creditor] is willing to accept payment in the amount of $128.99 in settlement of this debt. You can take advantage of this settlement offer if we receive payment of this amount or if you make another mutually acceptable payment arrangement within 40 days . . . .”

Tatis’ complaint alleged that Tatis interpreted the word “settlement” in the letter to mean that she had a “legal obligation” to pay the debt, and the least- sophisticated debtor would hold a similar belief. Tatis claimed that letter violated several prohibitions of the FDCPA including: §1692 e(2)(A), falsely representing the legal status of debt; §1692e(5), making false threats to take legal action that cannot be legally taken; and §1692e(10) using false representations and/or deceptive means to collect or attempt to collect a debt. Allied filed a Motion To Dismiss alleging that no threat to take legal action was made to Tatis by the settlement letter.

The U.S. District Court agree with Allied and held that an attempt to collect a time-barred does not violate the FDCPA unless it is accompanied a threat of legal action. District Court stated that the use of the word “settlement” in a letter did not constitute a threat of legal action. Finally, The U.S. District Court held that because under New Jersey law partial repayment would not revive the statute of limitations, the letter could not deceive or mislead a consumer into inadvertently reviving the debt.

The 3rd Circuit in reversing the District Court focused on the remedial nature of the FDCPA and the broad prohibitions set forth in the FDCPA by Congress to curb abusive, deceptive, and unfair debt collection practices. Because of the remedial nature of the FDCPA, its language is construed broadly to protect debtors. In addition, the “least sophisticated debtor” standard is used to determine whether any debt collection practices violate the FDCPA. The “least sophisticated debtor” standard is a very low standard which does requires a plaintiff to prove that he or she was mislead, but only that the least sophisticated debtor could be mislead.

The 3rd Circuit looked at several other court decisions involving similar settlement letters which found that offers to “settle” could mislead the least sophisticated debtor to believe that debt was legally enforceable in court. The 3rd Circuit agreed with its sister courts and held that in the specific context of a debt-collection letter, the least-sophisticated debtor could be misled into thinking that “settlement of the debt” referred to the creditor’s ability to enforce the debt in court rather than a mere invitation to settle the account. The 3rd Circuit concluded that the least-sophisticated debtor could plausibly be misled by the specific language used in Allied’s letter and vacated the District Court’s order granting Allied’s motion to dismiss. However, the 3rd Circuit would not go as far as to hold that standing alone, settlement offers and attempts to obtain voluntary repayments of stale debts constitute deceptive or misleading practices. Additionally, the 3rd Circuit declined to hold that the use of the word “settlement” is “misleading” as a matter of federal law or mandate the use of any specific language. The 3rd Circuit, in keeping with the text and purpose of the FDCPA, reiterated that any such letters, when read in their entirety, must not deceive or mislead the least-sophisticated debtor into believing that she has a legal obligation to pay the time-barred debt.

What it means for creditors is that they must very careful in drafting “settlement offers” for time-barred debt. A settlement offer cannot imply that a time-barred debt is legally enforceable. The 3rd Circuit believed the word “settle” could imply “concluding or avoiding a lawsuit.” Perhaps a disclaimer that no legal action can or will be taken if the debtor choses to voluntarily repay the debt.

With regards to debtors, if the language of settlement letter would mislead an unsophisticated consumer into believing that if he or she does not settle the time-barred debt he or she may be subject to suit, then that letter may violate the FDCPA. A debtor who receives a settlement letter may bring suit against the creditor. Under the FDCPA, a debtor may sue for actual damages, statutory damages of $1,000.00 per violation, and attorney’s fees so long as the suit is commenced within a year of the violation.

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York County Magistrate Judge Dismisses Charges of Making False Statements in Relation to Prior Putative Mental Health Commitment

Today, Attorney Eric Winter successfully argued for dismissal of charges before a York County Magistrate Judge. The charges were filed by the York County Sheriff in relation to a putative false statement our client made when applying for a license to carry firearms (“LTCF”).

In arguing that our client had not been committed to a mental institution, Attorney Winter argued that the recent decision by Federal District Court Judge Kim Gibson precluded any finding that our client had been involuntarily committed, regardless of any 302 commitment. Specifically, in Franklin v. Sessions, et al., Judge Gibson found that a Section 302 commitment under the Pennsylvania Mental Health and Procedures Act was not sufficient to trigger a federal disability.

After dismissing the charges, the Magistrate Judge asked the York County Sergeant who had filed the charges as to whether the “other cases, merely based on a 302 commitment, would be dismissed.” To our astonishment, the Sergeant replied that the charges filed against the other individuals would not be dismissed, as not everyone has a lawyer to defend against the charges. Thankfully, the Magistrate Judge stated that such was unfortunate, since he, as both an attorney and judge, was ethically bound to equally apply the law and that the established law precluded any individual from being charged for making false statement in relation to a 302 commitment. He went on to say that any charges filed against individuals for allegedly making false statements in relation solely to a 302 commitment would be dismissed.

Please join us in congratulating Attorney Winter and the Magistrate Judge in York County for ensuring that our constitutional rights are never infringed!

If you or someone you know has been involuntarily committed and are either under charges for making false statement or are now prohibited from purchasing and possessing firearms and ammunition, contact Firearms Industry Consulting Group today to discuss YOUR rights and legal options.


Firearms Industry Consulting Group® (FICG®) is a registered trademark and division of Civil Rights Defense Firm, P.C., with rights and permissions granted to Prince Law Offices, P.C. to use in this article.

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Blockchain Technology Overview

When and if to use blockchain

Aiming to clarify blockchain, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) recently released an introduction to blockchain, which underpins Bitcoin and other digital currencies.

Credit: K. Irvine/NIST/Shutterstock


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Workers’ Compensation Senate Bill 936: Trojan Horse Legislation

Update: this bill is up for vote on Monday, February 5, 2018

by Karl Voigt

The Pennsylvania Senate is promoting new legislation that poses as a solution to the opioid crisis, but in reality seeks to control and any all medications prescribed by doctors.

Pennsylvania Senate Bill 936 proposes that workers’ compensation medications be limited to formularies, or lists of approved medications managed by insurers. Drugs that are not “medically-evidenced” to have a benefit for the injured worker would be “not-recommended” and therefore largely unavailable to patients who need them. These formularies by definition do not take individual patients into account, but rather rely on generalized rules to determine if medication is deigned appropriate for the populace.

The end results of this legislation, if past, are obvious. It will make it harder for doctors treat their patients, because the doctor can no longer decide what medication to prescribe. Further, it reduces the treatment options available to injured workers. All the while increasing profits for insurers who no longer have to pay for expensive medications.

If passed, SB 936 would empower insurance companies with a tool to say “no” to medications they deem too expensive, whether or not they are narcotic medications.

Click here for the full text of the bill.

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Online Dating and Relationship Scams

Valentine’s Day is around the corner, but if an online love interest asks you for money, it’s probably a

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) receives thousands of reports each year about romance scammers who create fake online relationships only to rob their victims.

Millions of Americans use dating sites, social networking sites and chat rooms to meet people, but scammers use them too, and eventually the scammers ask for money.

The FTC’s new infographic, developed with the American Bankers Association Foundation, lists common signs of online dating scams and how to handle them.

How to Recognize a Scam

The relationship may not be what you think, especially if your sweetheart:

  • wants to leave the dating site immediately and use personal email or IM
  • claims love in a heartbeat
  • claims to be from the U.S., but is traveling or working overseas
  • plans to visit, but is prevented by a traumatic event or a business deal gone sour

Scammers also like to say they’re out of the country for business or military service.

What You Can Do About It

You may lose your heart, but you don’t have to lose your shirt, too. Don’t wire money to cover:

  • travel
  • medical emergencies
  • hotel bills
  • hospital bills for a child or other relative
  • visas or other official documents
  • or losses from a temporary financial setback

Don’t send money to tide someone over after a mugging or robbery, and don’t do anyone a favor by making an online purchase or forwarding a package to another country. One request leads to another, and delays and disappointments will follow. In the end, your money will be gone along with the person you thought you knew.

Report relationship scams to:

If you or your business have legal questions or concerns regarding computer law, privacy, or cybersecurity law matters, contact attorney Jeffrey A. Franklin at Prince Law Offices.

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