Liar, liar, pants on fire

Liar, liar, pants on fire

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Through lies, fabricated evidence, and damned impertinence, Sam Cohen scored another victory at CTTT on Monday 28 November 2011 against one of his clients who claims to have been ripped-off and misled. Tammy* was a client who had paid $3,900 for Sam Cohen’s dubious treatment. She told me that nothing worked, and she lost more hair than ever before — thanks to Sam’s rubbish! So she asked for a refund, as per IHRB’s much-publicised money-back guarantee. Samuel Faraj Cohen refused her a refund. She persisted. So Sam said that he would check with his Business Partner, and returned to say that his Partner refused to agree to any refund. (What tosh. Sam pulled that on me too. His then Partner was a silent Partner, so this is another unethical stunt). So Tammy insisted, and Sam Cohen said that he could only agree to $1,500 because: he had no money; his business was going broke; and he was shutting down! Tammy pushed her luck and raised the offer to $2,000 and agreed to it after Sam threatened her with, ‘Take it or leave it. I am closing down. So it’ll be this or nothing at all. You’d be silly not to take this amount.’

Tammy believed Sam’s assertions that IHRB was doomed, and that Sam was closing-shop. She had noted that he had stopped advertising, and thought that he might truly be closing down. She panicked at that prospect of having to chase a defunct company, so Tammy took what she could, skipping the opportunity to sue Sam at CTTT in the first place. Sam Cohen insisted that she sign a letter-of-release in which Tammy agreed that she had no further claim. Tammy said that $2,000 to her was a HUGE amount of money, being a sole-parent raising four children.

When Tammy later realised that Sam had lied to her about closing down, and tricked her out of her rights as a consumer who signed-up to a 100% money-back guarantee, she filed a claim at CTTT (Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal). A few days prior to the first hearing, Sam Cohen had responded to the CTTT in writing, showing documentation that Tammy says were fabricated. (Oh boy, I do know all about Sam Cohen’s fabricated evidence!) I have seen this slimy stunt from Sam many times, and he had done it to me and to other victims I know. He had the cheek to fabricate documents to suggest that Tammy was happy. In my case, he changed the facts in order to confuse the Tribunal. This is so illegal, so dirty, so underhanded, and so typical of Sam Cohen.

The Member was flummoxed at the scenario at hand, namely that Tammy had signed a letter (on 19 June 2011) stating that, by accepting the $2,000, she would have no further claim. Tammy was trying to say that she only agreed to this on the basis of a set of circumstances which Sam Cohen had misrepresented and about which he had lied. He was not shutting down. If what Tammy says was true, then Sam Cohen would have lied to her; deceived her; tricked her and hoodwinked her. Otherwise, it would not surprise me if Sam Cohen intentionally swindled Tammy (he had done it to me, big time, so I know it first-hand).

Sadly, the Tribunal Member dismissed the claim. Tammy went home distraught, frustrated, angry, and agog that Sam Cohen would: lie to her when she was a client; waste her time and money; sell her useless, harmful topical solutions that accelerated her hair loss; and now, inside the CTTT conciliation room, Sam Cohen denied ever saying that he was shutting down. He denied other things as well, but I shan’t complicate this article with the many other dastardly schemes that orbit around Sam Cohen.

Let’s delve into some of Sam Cohen’s back-stabbing tactics.

I DO NOT RECALL SAYING THAT

At CTTT, I heard Sam Cohen say something that I have never before heard him say. When asked if he had told Tammy that he was going broke and closing down, he replied, ‘I do not recall’. He added, ‘I see hundreds of clients, I would have told each of them that I am moving, that’s what I would have said. I am moving my office. She signed the release form, so that was the end of the matter.’

My goodness, Sam Cohen is learning so many innovative words. Someone must have drilled him in how to go about lying safely. It seems that there is a right way and a wrong way to lie. He knows how the scorpion can sting. He was stung a few months prior when he was charged in court for lying at CTTT. He knew that lying at CTTT is a risky business. He now sports a criminal conviction for lying at CTTT. Therefore, while Sam was under Oath, he did not refute Tammy’s allegations. He just said that he did not recall saying to Tammy that he was closing down. Yet, when Sam and Tammy were in the concilliation room, twice that day, he denied it point-blank. ‘I’m not going to argue’, he would say to Tammy.

Give me a break. How jolly convenient to pull that rabbit out of the hat while saying ‘I do not recall’. That’s a slimy trick. He was not being asked what he had for breakfast on the third Monday of August in 1972. He was asked if he had ever said to Tammy (or to anyone) that he was closing down. This is not the kind of statement that someone has to recall or not recall. You do not announce: ‘The Prince of Persia called me the other day and offered me millions to live on his farm and be his personal butler with a private jet and have ten wives,’ and then when asked if that kind of statement was made, you say, ‘I do not recall’. Excuse me! You either ventured down that story-line or you did not. You were either going broke or you were not. You were either shutting down or you were not.

The Tribunal Member said that the onus falls on Tammy to prove what he had said to her. How can any consumer prove what was said on any phone conversation? Tapping phones is not the done thing in this country, especially by normal law-abiding consumers who are dealing with a company which they presume to be operating ethically. Tammy did not realise that Sam Cohen has not a bone of ethics in his body.

Then the Member suggested that Tammy should have sought legal advice before agreeing to the $2,000 refund and before she had signed that release form. Well, in my opinion, it is not reasonable to expect this of a consumer. It would cost around $2,000 to seek proper legal advice about a $2,000 refund. Tammy did nothing wrong. Indeed, the release could have been worded better, but it was not wrong to sign it, if people assume that they are dealing with business people who are honest and fair. It was Sam who conned her, he scammed her, he tricked her (not to mention the lies about his trashy products, and no doubt the illegal sale of medications and all that other stuff surrounding the alleged scam that this website is exposing amidst unlawful advertising, illegal handling of medications, and the revelations that the curries and herbal extracts were never used by his pharmacists).

I AM NOT AT FAULT

Another new phrase that Sam Cohen must have been taught recently (perhaps his solicitor has been coaching him) was the phrase, ‘Although I am not at fault’. He added, ‘I don’t feel guilty’ (referring to his claim that he gave Tammy $2,000 while admitting no guilt whatsoever). My oh my, what a clear conscience grand-masters and con-artists seem to have. Why would Sam Cohen refund this money to someone if there was no reason for it? He is saying that he admits no responsibility for Tammy’s condition. Really? Then whose fault was it that her hair was falling out faster while using his useless topical solution? Sam said to the Member that indeed, he agreed to the $2,000 refund, but he was never at fault. He said that Tammy was unreasonable because she had used his products for so long and she had never complained. He said that Tammy only ever had ‘an itch here and there’. What an insult. What barefaced ballyhoo. Tammy told me that the solution would burn her scalp in an instant. Tammy was a client for 27 month, and during this time, Sam Cohen was raided by NSW Police and investigated by the Health Care Complaints Commission and found guilty! During this time, Tammy was not receiving any products. For five months, Sam Cohen was not delivering products because his pharmacists had dumped him (and he owes large amounts of money to BOTH former pharmacists because Sam just refused to pay them, because that is the kind of dirty businessman he is!). One pharmacist took him to court, while the other has not yet got around to chase him). Tammy said that IHRB’s products were so bad, that the moment she opened the blank, unlabelled bottles (which more than likely had arrived illegally due to Sam violating the HCCC Prohibition Orders) they would crystallise — so she could not use them and had to send them back and wait and wait and wait. His announcement about the ’27 months’ was misleading the Member, suggesting that Tammy was an unreasonable long-term client who had hitherto not complained, and who used and abused his angelic services and then she had the cheek to ask for a refund. Oh, how the true-story is always more amazing than Sam’s short fabricated misleading version of events. Not to mention the illegalities of Sam Cohen handling medications while under a Prohibition Order, but that’s another story for another time.

TO THE BEST OF MY KNOWLEDGE

Then while under Oath (swearing to Almighty God, if you please) Sam Cohen said, ‘I don’t remember saying that we’re closing down. To the best of my knowledge, I never said I’m closing down, to the best of my knowledge.’ It seems that Sam Cohen is learning a lot of new devious words and phrases.

THE DAMNING EVIDENCE

The CTTT Tribunal Member (Ms J. Conley) said that Tammy needs to prove what Sam Cohen had said. Average citizens to not tap phones. They do not walk around with a Black-Box voice-recorder. How could Tammy (or any client) prove what Sam Cohen had told them? In the absence of a Black-Box voice-recorder, we have to look at the circumstances and the likelihood of who might be lying and who might be telling the truth. So let’s start:

1) Did Sam Cohen ever complain in person and in writing to officials at HCCC and to the CTTT that his business was suffering? Yes!

2) Did Sam Cohen ever lie at a Tribunal? Yes! He is a convicted criminal in this regard. He lied in an Affidavit sent to the Court, and he lied in his resume, and he lied in a Company Annual Report. Not to mention the countless lies he told me and others I know.

3) Was Sam Cohen and his IHRB office raided by the police and found to be illegally in possession of non-approved dangerous drugs? Yes!

4) Was Sam Cohen investigated by the Health Care Complaints Commission and found so guilty of endangering the lives of clients, that the HCCC slapped him with a Permanent Prohibition Order? Yes!

5) Did the Commissioner of the CTTT say that Sam Cohen was an unreliable witness? Yes!

6) Did the Complaints Resolution Panel (CRP) find IHRB had breached Therapeutic Goods Advertising Codes, and found that IHRB had misled the public in 2008? Yes!

7) Did Sam Cohen snub the CRP and refuse to withdraw the misleading and deceptive ads? Yes! He ignored their requests for 18 months despite a warning.

8) Did the CRP find him guilty in November 2011 on 12 counts, and ask him to withdraw the unlawful ads now for a third time? Yes!

9) Has Sam Cohen rectified his website as per the CRP requirements? No! His website is still in breach. Click here for the daily Breach Counter.

10) Did Sam Cohen’s Business-Partner wash his hands of this con-man and divest himself of IHRB’s shenanigans? Yes! The Partner ran. He did not want anything more to do with IHRB which was causing him embarrassment.

11) Did one of IHRB’s lawyers threaten that IHRB would sue me? Yes!

12) Did Sam Cohen feel the heat and the pain as a result of being found so guilty by so many Departments? Yes! And he said (on tape) he would sue my ‘arse off’.

13) Did Sam Cohen say that he would sue Channel 7 for allegedly saying on TV that the Health Department had shut him down? Yes, and we have it on a secret recording which shall one day, hopefully, be played in court.

14) Did Sam Cohen tell HCCC that he can no longer afford to be in the city, due to the high rent and now low income due to the bad publicity? Yes!

15) Did Sam Cohen vacate his Pitt Street office and move to new premises in Leichhardt? Yes!

So here is a man who has clear motives to say to Tammy that he was shutting down and struggling so much that he is going broke. It was a scenario that was fresh in his mind, and a sob-story that he could spin to his advantage, in order to con her.

BUT WAIT! WHAT IF TAMMY WAS DREAMING?

Could IHRB’s client, Tammy, have imagined that Sam had said that he was going broke? Was it all in her imagination? Did she fabricate the story just to grab the rest of the money owed to her? Did she falsify her testimony (also under Oath) just to find a way to get out of the letter that had promised that she had no further claim on IHRB? Indeed, anything is possible. On the one hand, we have Tammy, who could be innocent, or could be lying. Then we have Sam Cohen, who could be innocent, or could be lying. What do we know about Sam Cohen’s modus operandi? What was his motive? How many other clients had he mistreated? How many people had he exasperated and conned and scammed and tricked?

Indeed, Tammy could have been making it all up, just to get her hands on the extra $1,900 that she alleged Sam had illegally denied her in the first place. But what if we have a witness!

ENTER THE STAR WITNESS!

The CTTT hearing was on Monday 28 November. The very next day, I happened to be helping another of Sam’s victims (MA), and lo and behold, the conversation swung around, surprisingly, to reveal that MA had also been told by Sam that he was shutting down. A star witness is born. Below is the transcript, along with the audio recording of my conversation with her. The victim (MA) is speaking with me (JN). I had her permission to record the conversation. I often record conversations with victims, with their permission, so that I have good solid evidence and so that I can listen carefully without having to take too many notes. In reading the transcript, observe how we stumble upon a gem — by a stroke of luck!

Click on the arrow to hear the phone conversation.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Here is the transcript. I underlined the radioactive section:

JN: But my question I wonder to you is why you haven’t asked for your money back?

MA: Oh no, I went to him, and then after, before the, the one year finishes, and then uh, I asked him it’s not, I told him it’s not working for me. And then he doesn’t like to give my money back. I said oh ok, can we just halve it? Can you just give me half of the money? Because I’ve used your products and nothing worked so just even just half of it just give it back to me, I was happy. So he give me half, so it’s ok for me.

JN: Did he make you sign a letter of release?

MA: Ah, I, yeh I think I signed something, yeh.

JN: Yeh, because you have a warranty, didn’t you have a warranty? Didn’t he have a 100% money-back warranty?

MA: Yeh I know, there there is a 100% money-back. But he doesn’t want to give this to me. He doesn’t want to give the money back. I’d been waiting, yeh, that’s why I said just give me the half, I’ll I’ll get out of this room, just give me the half, so he agreed to give me the half and then that’s it.

JN: Yeh, ok, unfortunately, yesterday I was at the CTTT helping another lady and, ah, he had done something similar to her, but he lied to her. He said look I can only give you $2,000 because I’m broke and I’m closing down and my business is shutting down, so she believed him. He shut down his Pitt Street office and the next day he opened in Leichhardt. And she felt like he misled her, so she took him to the tribunal yesterday and lost because she had that, she signed that release form, and she’s so angry and she’s so sad that he ripped her off.

MA: Oh, I thought he, like he stopped already, that’s why…

JN: No, what do you mean he stopped? No he moved from Pitt Street…

MA: He closed, completely closed.

JN: No no no, that’s what he wants: did he tell you that?

MA: He, that’s what he, he said that I’m gonna be closed soon because I have a bad reputation now or something like that, I have all these things coming to me, they came here the other day blah blah blah. So yeh, that’s what he told me. I said ok.

JN: Would you ever want to be involved as a witness? You see this lady yesterday, they, they called her; you know; they said sorry you, you have no proof he said that. And Sam denied it. He said, I didn’t, he said, no I don’t recall saying that to her.

MA: Oh yeh, because, yeh he he can deny as much as he can definitely because every thing, every conversation I had with him is not recorded anyway, so, and I signed a letter saying that I agreed that he he can just pay me back half of the money, so… that’s the problem.

JN: Ok so, do you think though, I, I, because I don’t know you, I’m trying to ask you, are you the kind of person who would get involved and act as a witness for this lady? She’s a single parent with four boys, or four children, rather, I don’t know if they’re all boys, and, uh, to her, it’s a lot of money. She’s trying to get another $1,900. She lost her case because she has no evidence. But if she had a witness, then we can prove that Sam had said this to people. Who can…

MA: So what do you need? So, what do you need?

THE STAR WITNESS SENDS AN EMAIL

Below is the email from MA, who wrote to assist Tammy and to help us all to understand what kind of man Sam Cohen really is:

Here is the text from that email above:

Dear Jonar

Thank you for speaking with me about Mr Sam Cohen and IHRB. I was a client for a period of one year, and none of his products or treatment worked for me. I had entered into a 100% money-back guarantee agreement with IHRB, but when it was clear that nothing had worked for me, Mr Cohen refused to return my money. He said to me that his business now has such a bad reputation due to the bad publicity, that he is closing down, and he can’t afford to give me a refund, and he is shutting the doors and going out of business because he is broke. So then I pleaded with him to give me something back, because his products were useless and my hair did not improve at all, so it was a waste of time and money.

After pleading with Mr Cohen, he agreed to give me half my money back. I really should have received a full refund like he promised. But in view of him telling me that he is shutting down and going broke, I felt that I had no choice but to accept the 50% refund. He made me sign a piece of paper that I had no further claim. I am now surprised to hear that he is still in business.

Now I found out that on Monday 28 November 2011, an IHRB client (Ms TS) had taken Mr Cohen to CTTT, claiming that he had said and done a similar thing to her. She claimed that Mr Cohen had told her that he was shutting down.

I wish to note it here in writing that Mr Cohen had told me that he was shutting down and going broke, and that is why I allowed him to get away with refusing me a full refund like the contract said I should receive.

Yours Sincerely
MA

 

*Tammy is not the client’s real name. It is changed here to offer her some privacy during this ordeal. Her initials are TS and the CTTT file number was GEN 11/54244.

CTTT MISSES THE POINT

Below we see the Decision that CTTT published about this case. Member J Conley did not mention the nub of the matter — that Sam Cohen had told Tammy that he was closing down as a way of tricking Tammy into believing that she ought to take the lesser amount, or risk getting nothing at all. Tammy claims to have been lied to. The member could not do anything about it, because the Member wanted Tammy to prove it. As I said above, how can any consumer prove what was said, when a lot of one’s interactions to service providers is verbal. Incidentally, the Decision below lists the matter as ‘Tenancy’ and that must be an oversight. It certainly was a ‘General Division’ claim, being Consumer action.

S v Cohen (Tenancy) [2012] NSWCTTT 29 (17 January 2012)

Last Updated: 7 February 2012

S v Cohen (Tenancy) [2012] NSWCTTT 29 (17 January 2012)
CONSUMER, TRADER AND TENANCY TRIBUNAL

APPLICATION NO: GEN 11/54244

APPLICANT: TS

RESPONDENT: Sam Cohen

APPLICATION: Compensation

HEARING: 28 November 2011

APPEARANCES: Applicant and respondent both appeared in person

ISSUES: Entitlement to compensation where prior agreement resolving dispute

LEGISLATION: Consumer Trader and Tenancy Tribunal Act 2001; Consumer Claims Act 1998

KEYWORDS: Compensation; Prior agreement resolving dispute

ORDERS

On 28-Nov-2011 the following orders were made:

1. The application is dismissed because: Having considered the material placed before it, the Tribunal is not satisfied (at the civil standard of proof) that the grounds required to make the orders sought have been established.

REASONS FOR DECISION

APPLICATION This was an application by a consumer seeking compensation in the sum of $1,900.00 from a supplier in respect of services provided to treat hair loss.

APPEARANCES Both the applicant and the respondent appeared in person.

JURISDICTION This was an application seeking compensation being the refund of the cost of treatment for hair loss provided by the Respondent. The application had been filed within time and was a “consumer claim” within the meaning of the Consumer Claims Act 1998 and within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal.

PROCEEDINGS The matter came before the Tribunal in a group list on 28 November 2011. The matter was heard and determined on that day. Oral reasons were given at the conclusion of the hearing. The applicant has now requested written reasons. These reasons have been prepared from the member’s notes and recollection.

DECISION This was an application seeking compensation arising from the provision of treatment for hair loss. The sum sought was the balance owing after payment by the respondent of a sum of $2,000.00 in resolution of the dispute. As a preliminary matter the Tribunal was put on notice that the parties had previously resolved the dispute between themselves. The prior settlement is not referred to in the application. The respondent presented documentary material that the parties had previously fully resolved the dispute between themselves. The Tribunal had before it a document dated 19 June 2011 signed by the applicant that stated,
“I TS am willing to accept payment of $2,000 from the company with no further demands.”

There was no dispute that the respondent provided a treatment to the applicant for hair loss. In June 2011 she claimed a full refund of the money paid in the sum of $3,900.00. It was also not in dispute that they had entered into a settlement agreement with the respondent making payment of $2,000.00 in settlement of the dispute. There was no dispute about the terms of settlement. There was also no dispute that the funds were paid to the applicant and that the applicant had cashed the cheque.

The basis of the applicant’s claim was that the respondent was closing his shop when he had offered her the settlement. The applicant could have filed a claim in the Tribunal instead of accepting the offer of settlement. There was no evidence that the respondent had coerced her to accept the offer, or that she could not have taken advice, or filed a claim in the Tribunal as she has now done. She had accepted the offer of settlement because she had “panicked” and thought that if she did not accept the offer she would get nothing. The applicant had accepted the offer of settlement and then subsequently filed her application in the Tribunal seeking further compensation.

The evidence before the Tribunal was that the respondent had elected to offer a payment of compensation to the applicant after receiving a demand for refund of money paid. The sum was just over half of the full payment for the services provided. The payment was on condition that the matter was fully resolved between the parties and no further claims would be made. The applicant accepted the offer on those terms. There was a significant benefit to the applicant in the settlement in that she was guaranteed to receive a little over half of the money paid to the respondent. If the applicant had filed her claim in the Tribunal she must prove a legal entitlement to the claim. On the available evidence the Tribunal found that having entered into the above agreement the applicant could not then subsequently file a further claim for the same matter. The Tribunal therefore dismissed the application for compensation.

J Conley
Member
Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal

17 January 2012

Misleading publishers

On Friday 9 March 2012, I received an email from the Advertising Director of one of the publications in which IHRB had placed ads. The Advertising Director said, ‘Our salesperson had contacted IHRB over 6 months ago because it wanted to stop the ad, and our salesperson said that IHRB gave the impression to close the business.’

This is yet another example that points to IHRB making these kinds of misleading claims. So maybe Tammy wasn’t imagining things after all.

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