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An Alternate Name of Northern Leasing Systems
MBF Leasing is a merchant account equipment lease provider and DBA of Northern Leasing Systems. In addition to Northern Leasing and MBF Leasing, the Northern Leasing family of companies includes Lease Finance Group, Golden Eagle Leasing, and Lease Source-LSI, LLC. As of this review, MBF Leasing’s website is no longer active, but it appears that Northern Leasing still utilizes MBF Leasing as a business name. This is surprising due to the negative reputation MBF Leasing has built for itself through poor business practices, which ultimately resulted in a lawsuit and the creation of a large, independent merchant forum specifically built to warn business owners against using the company.
Initial New York AG Lawsuit
In March of 2013, MBF Leasing and its associated companies paid out a multimillion-dollar settlement to hundreds of small business owners as part of an agreement reached with the New York Attorney General. MBF Leasing and its DBA, Northern Leasing, stood accused of creating a shell company called SKS Associates LLC, which it used to deceive merchants and withdraw money from their checking accounts after their contracts had expired. Although the Attorney General’s lawsuit ended the existence of SKS Associates LLC, the Northern Leasing Systems family of companies continued to operate and had grown into a very large network of equipment providers until the New York Attorney General filed a lawsuit in April 2016 and reached a settlement in June 2020, effectively dissolving Northern Leasing Systems and its family of companies. Jay Cohen is listed as the CEO of Northern Leasing Systems (and, by extension, MBF Leasing).
For a full analysis of the primary company in this network, please see our Northern Leasing Systems review.
Northern Leasing Systems Lawsuit Update 2021
In June 2020, the New York Attorney General won the 2016 lawsuit filed against Northern Leasing Systems, Inc, voiding thousands of fraudulently-induced credit card equipment leases. The ruling also vacates nearly 30,000 default judgments and bans Northern Leasing from engaging in equipment leasing, effectively dissolving the company. The Attorney General’s victory will also force Northern Leasing and its related entities, Northern Leasing’s chief executive officer, and others who engaged in the fraudulent scheme to provide restitution to small business owners who were fraudulently induced into financing leases for credit card processing equipment from April 1, 2013, through the present. Northern Leasing is ordered to dissolve 60 days after providing relief. Restitution amounts are to be set by the court at a later date. Small business merchants are not required to take action at this time in order to receive restitution.
In February 2021, the Supreme Court denied the Northern respondents’ motions for discovery and a trial or evidentiary hearing and denied the Attorney Respondents’ motion for summary judgment dismissing the petition as against them, effectively upholding the 2020 decision.
Additionally, according to EINPresswire, in November 2020, the OAG brought forward another, separate proceeding after discovering that Northern Leasing’s owners and officers had created two new entities — NLS Equipment Finance and Leasing Expenses Company — to continue defrauding small businesses using the same scheme barred by the court in the prior litigation, as well as to continue collecting on leases rescinded by the June 2020 court order.
The companies found liable by this ruling — also issued by the New York County State Supreme Court — were operated by former Northern Leasing Chief Financial Officer Ariel Schachter and former Northern Leasing officer Sara Krieger and were owned by trusts that benefited the families of Northern Leasing’s owners, Jay Cohen and Leonard Mezei. The court found that these companies had “risen on [Northern Leasing’s] ashes” in an earlier December ruling that granted a temporary restraining order barring them from collecting on any equipment leases. In February 2021, New York Attorney General Letitia James issued a decision and order in February 2021 effectively shutting down Northern Leasing Systems’ alleged attempt to continue to enforce illegal leases, including those voided in the 2020 decision. The parties named in this proceeding include Leasing Expenses Company LLC; NLS Equipment Finance LLC; Leonard Mezei; Ariel Schacter; Sara Krieger; Jay Cohen; a Jay Cohen Family Trust; Fieldston Capital LLC; and JS Ventures Holding LLC.
Despite the extensive and public legal action against the company, Northern Leasing Systems appears to be still operating at some level, as per a promotional article from March 18, 2021, celebrating the company’s 30th anniversary penned by founder and president Jay Cohen posted to PRWeb, a promotional website. Additionally, some former customers report to the BBB that they continue to receive bills from Northern Leasing Systems, including for properties that the customers no longer own. According to some comments from customers, Northern Leasing Systems no longer answers communications, though they continue to list a phone number on their website.
MBF Leasing Point of Sale
MBF Leasing is not a merchant account provider; rather, it leases credit card processing equipment like terminals, printers, barcode scanners, and other point-of-sale technology. Like other equipment providers, the company’s services and products are often packaged within the merchant account contracts of credit card processors. Because of this, merchants regularly sign equipment leases through MBF without realizing that they are entering into agreements that are separate from their merchant account contracts. As with other Northern Leasing Systems companies, MBF Leasing’s contract terms are non-cancellable and usually run for 48 months.
MBF Leasing Review Table of Contents
- Costs & Contract: MBF Leasing offers 48-month, non-cancellable equipment leases that often…
- Complaints & Service: MBF Leasing complaints number more than 750 on…
- BBB Rating: As Northern Leasing Systems, MBF Leasing had a “D+” rating with the Better Business Bureau and has received 106 complaints and 17 reviews across 3 profiles in…
- Sales & Marketing: MBF Leasing allows independent sales agents to package its equipment leases with other merchant accounts and has…
Should You Trust MBF Leasing?
Lawsuits, Reviews & Complaints
Here's Who We Trust.
Total Online Complaints
Live Customer Support
Most Common Complaint
Extremely High Complaint Volume
MBF Leasing and its affiliates have racked up large numbers of uniformly negative reviews from merchants, and several merchants call the leasing family a ripoff and a scam operation. In fact, there are several websites dedicated to exposing the company’s fraudulent activities, including NorthernLeasingScam.org. The MBF Leasing reviews on this site list many of the same problems described in complaints about Northern Leasing Systems and its DBAs, including long-term, non-cancellable leases, misrepresentation of lease terms, expensive equipment, poor customer service, and aggressive collections practices. There are more than 50 MBF Leasing complaints in the comment section of this review that describe typical issues with MBF Leasing. If you have your own MBF Leasing review to make, please do so in the comments below.
MBF Scamming LLC
At one point, MBF Leasing inspired an entire online forum titled “MBF Scamming LLC”, which was an active community of merchants who felt they had been ripped off by MBF Leasing. This reflects poorly on the company’s customer service, as a large number of merchants apparently felt that they were better served talking to each other than they would be getting help from the company itself. The company’s support options evidently fall way short of what we expect of top-rated processors for customer service.
MBF Leasing Leasing Lawsuits and Fines
In March 2013, the New York Attorney General reached a multi-million dollar settlement with Northern Leasing and its affiliated companies over a scheme to drain nearly $11 million from the bank accounts of small business owners. The case alleged that Northern Leasing had created a shell company called SKS Associates LLC, through which Northern Leasing misled customers and began withdrawing lease payments from merchants’ bank accounts long after their leases had expired. Although this settlement concludes the Attorney General’s lawsuit and appears to be the end of SKS Associates, Northern Leasing and its related companies still conducted business and grew into a very large equipment leasing network.
In April 2016, the New York Attorney General filed a lawsuit against Northern Leasing Systems, Lease Finance Group, and MBF Leasing “for their fraudulent and deceptive practices that trap small business owners across the country.” The lawsuit alleges that Northern Leasing Systems and its subsidiaries knowingly deceived thousands of business owners into buying overpriced equipment and then abused the judicial system by filing suit in New York to collect on overdue lease payments. The lawsuit seeks to vacate default judgments obtained by Northern Leasing against business owners, enjoin the company and its owners from further deceptive practices, obtain restitution for merchants, dissolve Northern Leasing, and force the company to notify all three major credit reporting agencies that the default judgments have been vacated. It was allowed to proceed in December 2017 and in June 2020, the New York Attorney General won the lawsuit, providing relief to thousands of business owners. Further details of the cases can be found in the intro to this review.
MBF Leasing Customer Service Options
The company offers dedicated support numbers and email addresses through Northern Leasing Systems’ website. While these are the basic support channels we expect of top-rated merchant accounts for customer service, it is clear that most merchants do not obtain positive resolutions through these channels.
Is the BBB Rating for MBF Leasing Accurate?
Better Business Bureau Profile
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Total BBB Complaints
Over 120 Complaints
The MBF Leasing profile has effectively been wiped, so we have combined it with Northern Leasing Systems’ profile in this section since they are the same company. MBF Leasing is not accredited and had a “D+”, while Northern Leasing Systems is not an accredited business with the Better Business Bureau and at the time of being shut down had a BBB rating of “F” on their main profile and no rating on their profile for NLS Equipment Finance, LLC. As of its shutdown, there were 106 complaints filed against the company in the last 36 months between the two profiles, a considerable decline from the 224 registered at the time of a previous review. Only 6 of these 106 complaints were resolved by the company to the satisfaction of the merchant. The remaining 100 were resolved to the dissatisfaction of the merchant or received no final response.
BBB Warning and Government Action
The BBB profile also makes mention of the New York Attorney General’s lawsuits against Northern Leasing and includes the following notice:
BBB files indicate a pattern of complaints concerning the sales practices, contracts, and customer service of this company. Complainants are telling BBB about the difficulties they encounter when they lease equipment for their small businesses from Northern Leasing Systems. These complainants say that company sales representatives employ high pressure sales tactics to get them to sign a contract with the company. Many complainants allege that Northern Leasing Systems staff misrepresented the equipment to be leased or terms of the lease they sign. Other complainants are reportedly not given all pages of the contract after it is signed. Numerous complaints detail the burdensome nature of the company’s contract for return of the leased equipment. Some complainants that experience problems with the company claim they have a lot of trouble reaching a live person in customer service while a number of other customers reportedly receive repeated harassing collection calls from company representatives.
A more recent notice details the New York Attorney General’s victory against Northern leasing and subsequent government action.
What Merchants Say
Northern Leasing Systems had also received 17 informal reviews to its BBB profile, all of which are negative in tone. The most recent described trouble canceling services:
The worst! They overcharged us and is impossible to cancel their services with them. I’m going on a year now and still no luck cancelling. STAY AWAY!
Merchant accounts process sensitive financial data making confidentiality an imperative consideration for any company. Merchants whose confidentiality has been breached should pursue all available legal remedies.
A Well-Deserved “F”
In light of the company’s complaint total and resolution ratio, multiple lawsuits, and accusations of illegal activity, we agree with the BBB’s rating of an “F” for the company.
How Expensive is MBF Leasing Service?
Rates, Fees, and Contract Terms
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Monthly & Annual Fees
Non-Cancellable 48-Month Term
The standard MBF Leasing contract is a non-cancellable 48-month agreement, which means that, upon signing the lease, merchants are obligated to pay the full cost of the four-year lease whether they use the equipment or not. The full cost of a standard MBF Leasing contract appears to be several thousand dollars, often up to ten times the cost of purchasing the leased equipment independently. It should be noted that most credit card terminals can be purchased for under $500. Non-cancellable, long-term leases mean a merchant can pay thousands for that same equipment making them a contract term to avoid.
Several Negative Reports
To terminate the contract, merchants can either notify MBF Leasing of their intent to terminate the contract, return the equipment, and pay the remaining balance; or they can purchase the equipment and pay the remaining balance. Either way, they will be on the hook for the remaining monthly payments. It appears to be standard company policy to simply withdraw the amounts owed on delinquent accounts in monthly or lump sums, often without ever notifying the merchant. The vast majority of MBF Leasing reviews online indicate widespread dissatisfaction with these contract terms, and we are inclined to agree with the merchants in this case. Merchants seeking equipment should instead investigate equipment rental terms offered by budget-friendly merchant account providers. We also encourage merchants to check out our list of the providers of the best merchant services.
Does MBF Leasing Use Deceptive Marketing?
Advertising & Sales Strategy
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Employs Independent Resellers
Advertises Deceptive Rates
Discloses All Important Terms
A Provider for Resellers
MBF Leasing allows independent sales agents with any merchant account provider in the industry to resell its equipment leases as an addendum to their usual merchant account contracts. MBF appears to exercise little-to-no oversight when it comes to how the agents sell its products, but it will typically enforce the full terms of the agreements that are signed.
Definite Red Flags
We have found hundreds of MBF Leasing reviews filed against the company and its DBAs that allege sales agents do not disclose the conditions of the equipment lease. There are also numerous MBF Leasing complaints of aggressive collections efforts by MBF, even when merchants state that they were completely duped into signing the agreement. In general, there is no positive information to be found about MBF’s sales approach, and the company has earned an “F” in this category. If you feel that you are trapped in an improperly disclosed equipment lease, we advise seeking a third-party statement audit to renegotiate your terms. This does not compare favorably to our list of best credit card processors.