Much has happened over the past 12 hours and I will try to summarize the most salient details below. I also hope to have a more comprehensive post up later today, however with the amount of consultations we are having with victims of this scandal, it may not be up until early this evening. I will try to respond to all emails and comments throughout the day though as well as be available to answer any questions you may have telephonically. Further, we will be posting regular updates via Twitter throughout the day in lieu of full posts and you can subscribe via this link.
In no particular order:
I have confirmed that that Tonya Collins, CEO of SurroGenesis and purported owner of Michael Charles Financial, moved to Texas. The best information we have is that she relocated the Michael Charles Financial Company to Grapevine, Texas as well. Matthew Penny, an attorney with the Texas law firm of Cokinos, Bosien & Young has been engaged to identify potential assets that might be available as well as to pursue any legal remedies that might exist in Texas. Mr. Penny can be reached at 713.535.5535.
The list of victims has expanded to more than 60 families with losses in excess of $2,000,000.00 and rising.
While some believed our recommendation yesterday to consider closing any bank account was alarmist, we have confirmed at least one recent incident where the Michael Collins Company attempted to withdraw money from a surrogate’s bank account. Fortunately, the surrogate had taken precautions and the money was not withdrawn. While the chances of this happening again may be remote, it nevertheless is a sensible step to take given the magnitude of the fraud that has taken place and the fact that Ms. Collins is not in custody.
SurroGenesis had several incarnations of their website. While providing very little fresh information, you can view their other websites at: http://www.otheroom.com/archive/surrogenesis/about.html and http://www.getsurro.com/
Shannon of Surrogate Moms Online has been doing invaluable work in collecting information from the surrogate community to assist in the investigation of the SurroGenesis scandal. If you are a surrogate that was victimized in this scandal, I strongly encourage you to visit Shannon’s site for more information on how to protect yourself.
Shannon passed a long this interesting tidbit of information that suggests that Tonya Collins might have been using several aliases.
I have been informed that the Michael Charles Company had a fidelity bond policy. Unfortunately, the policy limit was only $100,000. It is also typical for these policies to have an Arrest and Conviction Clause which means there can be no payout until a conviction has been secured. Sadly, given the amount of losses, it does not appear that this policy will even come close to reimbursing the victims of this fraud.
I have been unable to confirm whether SurroGenesis and/or Michael Charles Company had any kind of Error & Omission coverage or a Comprehensive General Liability Policy. While these policies could have higher limits, they also generally do not cover criminal acts.
Several former employees and surrogates of SurroGenesis have shared some information in the Comment section of this Blog. While I cannot substantiate their accounts, I have no reason to doubt them. I encourage you to pass their information along to your attorney.
Shannon also passed along this story on Jack Kiserow, a Director of SurroGenesis. Kiserow, as you may recall, listed himself as the owner of Michael Charles Financial on his LinkedIn account.
Again, I hope to have a more substantive post up later today. However, you can monitor what is taking place during the day by subscribing to this Blog here. Also, in case it was lost in all the noise that has been generated by this story, our firm continues to offer its services on a pro bono basis for anyone that has been victimized and suffering from financial hardship. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have.