Are Norris McLaughlin, Steven Reed, Anthony Caruso Suing Fraud VICTIMS?

Norris McLaughlin attorneys Steven J. Reed and Anthony R. Caruso have filed suit against a woman who was allegedly falsely induced into sending a check to a salesman using a fake name and bogus franchise documents.  Norris McLaughlin is demanding monetary damages of $50,000 plus declaratory relief from the widowed woman who is already out $27,500.  by Sean Kelly

(UnhappyFranchisee.Com)  In my layman’s opinion, Joe Smith and Dennis Mason run a criminal enterprise disguised as a legitimate bagel shop franchise.

Attorney Steven J ReedThey run ads on Craig’s List stating that they will put you in business for just $27,500 as owner of your very own NYC Bagel Sandwich Shop (previously marketed as NY Bagel Cafe & Deli and other variations.

Their notorious franchise salesperson (Dennis Mason) uses the fake name Brian Scofield to hide his record of bankruptcies, franchise lawsuits, government investigations, and findings of fraud.

The company distributes bogus documents that don’t contain the legally required disclosures of litigation, unpaid judgements, government investigations and enforcement orders, and other findings of wrongdoing.

The company does not disclose, as required by law, the overwhelming number of owners who have paid fees but never opened, those who opened and closed, nor contact information for current and former franchisees.

Joe Smith and Dennis Mason provided their prospective victims with the information required by law, no one would ever Fedex another $27,500 check to Brian Scofield’s (Dennis Mason’s) strip mall mail drop.

So continuous violation of the FTC Franchise Rule as well as state franchise, business opportunity and consumer protection laws is the basis of their business model.

And so far, they’ve gotten away with it.

They just ignore civil lawsuits and let the default judgements pile up, unpaid.

They simply ignore the investigations, orders and fines of hundreds of dollars imposed – but not collected – by state franchise regulators.

They’ve become so emboldened at getting away with fraud for so many years, they are upping their game and demanding MORE money from victims – even after the victims realize they’ve been defrauded.

And it appears that they have found a law firm and a couple of attorneys to do their bidding:   Steven J. Reed and Anthony R. Caruso of Norris McLaughlin


Norris McLaughlin’s Steven J. Reed and Anthony R. Caruso Are Demanding $50,000 from a Widowed Fraud Victim

Anthony CarusoAccording to the firm website:

Norris McLaughlin, P.A., has been serving the business community of the New Jersey and New York metropolitan area since 1953.  Once a humble two-man practice on Main Street in Somerville, New Jersey, Norris McLaughlin, P.A.has become… one of the top 20 firms in New Jersey.  In response to the changing needs of our clients and the business community, the firm opened the New York office in 1999.  In 2009, Norris McLaughlin, P.A. merged with Tallman, Hudders & Sorrentino, the largest independent commercial firm in the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania.

Attorneys Steven J. Reed and Anthony R. Caruso work out of the Bridgewater, NJ office.

They have filed a demand for “monetary damages of $50,000 as well as additional non-monetary relief, including declaratory relief” from a widowed woman who sent $27,500 to a man who identified himself as “Brian Scofield.”

Today, we have reached out to attorneys Steven J. Reed & Anthony R. Caruso  with these questions:

Steven Reed & Anthony Caruso:

Could you please clarify a few things for me:

1)  Are you aware that Dennis Mason, the person who manages the entire sales function for your client SMS Franchise LLC, from fielding the lead, negotiating and sending the contract, and receives the franchise fee, uses a fake name in order to hide his true identity?  Your client does not disclose Dennis Mason’s name, background, bankruptcies, and extensive history of litigation and state enforcement orders to prospective franchisees, as required by law.  Are you aware that Dennis Mason even signs contracts using one of his fake aliases (most recently, Brian Scofield).  Are you aware that the victim you are demanding $50,000 from, was not told that she was interacting with the notorious Dennis Mason, not Brian Scofield?


2)  Did you review your client’s current Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) prior to filing a suit against their victim?  Are you aware that CEO Joe Smith and Dennis Mason, individuals with decades of experience in the franchise industry, did not provide the victim with an FTC-Compliant Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) as required by law?  Are you aware that Smith, Mason and SMS Franchise LLC actively hide their extensive history of franchise-related litigation, unpaid civil judgements,  investigations and findings of unlawful conduct and fraud by three state franchise agencies, and unpaid fines  and penalties of nearly $1M for legal violations?


3)  Are you aware that CEO Joe Smith and Dennis Mason also failed to disclose to the victim you are suing, as required by law, accurate information regarding the number of stores opened, closed and transferred to new owners in the previous years?  That they failed to disclose and accurate number of franchises sold but not opened?  That they failed to provides an accurate and complete list of contact information for all those who have signed franchise agreements, including those who have left the system?  Are you aware that these, and many more critical items including audited financial statements, are all required disclosures that the Victim would have been able to consider before sending any money to your client had Smith or Mason provided a legally compliant FDD?

If and when I receive answers to these questions from Steven J. Reed and Anthony R. Caruso or other representatives of Norris McLaughlin, I will update this thread with their responses.

Are Norris McLaughlin, Steven Reed & Anthony Caruso Participating in a Criminal Enterprise?

Norris McLaughlin PCAt what point does representation become participation?

In my layman’s opinion, Norris Mclaughlin’s client, SMS Franchise Inc., is a criminal enterprise.  Joe Smith and Dennis Mason know that if they provided prospective franchisees with the legally required documents and disclosures, no one would Fedex tens of thousands of dollars to their generic mail drop.  Their entire business operation is based on continuously violating the FTC Franchise Rule, state franchise, business opportunity and consumer protection laws, and ignoring civil and government litigation notices and penalties.

To me, that’s a criminal enterprise.

Obviously, even criminal enterprises have the right to legal representation.  However, it seems to me that when a law firm knowingly files groundless legal demands and complaints against the VICTIMS of their client’s criminal enterprises, and seeks to enforce agreements they know (or should know) were  fraudulently induced, they may be crossing the line from representation to participation.

Which leads me to one final question for Norris McLaughlin, Steven Reed & Anthony Caruso:  Does the NYC Bagel Scam pay so well it’s worth soiling your professional reputations?

We will continue to reach out to Norris McLaughlin P.C. and attorneys Steven J. Reed and Anthony R. Caruso for clarification of their actions on behalf of NYC Bagel Sandwich Shop and the NY Bagel Scam, and whether they will continue this type of litigation in the future.

If you or someone you know has sent money for a NYC Bagel and Sandwich Shop franchise, please contact UnhappyFranchisee[at] or NYBagelFranchiseScam[at] on a confidential basis.

NOTE:  All individuals, groups and companies discussed on this site are invited to provide corrections, clarifications, rebuttals or alternative viewpoints for publication.  Contact ADMIN at UnhappyFranchisee[at]


NY Bagel Scam website

NY Bagel Scam links on Unhappy Franchisee

NY BAGEL CAFÉ Franchise: How Many Have Closed? [UPDATED]

NY Bagel Café Franchise Scam Overview




TAGS: Norris McLaughlin P.C., Attorney Anthony R. Caruso, Attorney Steven J. Reed, Attorney John Vanarthos, Norris McLaughlin law firm, NYC Bagel & Sandwich Shop, NY Bagel Cafe, NY Bagel Cafe & Deli, NYC Bagel, NYC Bagel & Sandwich Shop, New York Bagel Cafe, NY Bagel Franchise, Joe Smith, Joseph Smith, Dennis Mason, Brian Scofield, NY Bagel Scam, NYC Bagel Scam, New York Bagel Scam, Craigslist Scam franchise, NY Bagel Cafe franchise opportunity, NY Bagel franchise, NY Bagel franchise opportunity, franchise complaints, unhappy franchisee

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