Darryl André, and three other individual defendants, operating under a host of assumed names, including Premier Card Services, have agreed to settle federal and state charges that they deceptively marketed credit cards for an upfront fee. The settlement, approved by the court on Wednesday, May 13, resolves charges filed jointly by the Federal Trade Commission and the Illinois Attorney General, alleging that the defendants promised consumers a major credit card with a high credit line for a $97.50 "processing fee." Under the settlement, the defendants are prohibited from making false representations regarding any sales offer or credit card offer in the future.
In January 1998, the FTC and the Illinois Attorney General filed a complaint, naming Darryl André, also known as Darryl A. Roberts and Darryl Jones, Angela André, a/k/a Angela Jones, Bryan D. Smith and Anthony Q. Roberts, as part of a nationwide crackdown on telemarketers who, for a fee, offered consumers guaranteed loans or credit that never arrived. The complaint alleged that the defendants, operating under several names, including Creative Concepts, Premier Card Services, Premier Services, Tower Financial Services, Tower Services, Prime Credit Services, Prime Services, Colonial Financial Services, Colonial Financial, and Consumer Express, misrepresented to consumers that they could get credit cards in exchange for a one-time upfront fee. The defendants told consumers that for a $97.50 "processing fee," to be deducted from their checking account, they would receive a Visa or MasterCard credit card. Instead, consumers received a "Consumer Express" charge card that was only good for ordering from defendants' high-priced, mail-order catalog. The defendants also failed to tell consumers they had to buy over $400 worth of merchandise from the defendants' catalog before the defendants would "sponsor" the consumers' application for a credit card.
The consent judgment to settle the federal and Illinois state charges prohibits the defendants from misrepresenting that they will provide consumers with, or arrange for consumers to receive, a major credit card for a one-time fee. In addition, the settlement prohibits the defendants from violating the FTC's Telemarketing Sales rule by:
- requesting or receiving payment in advance of obtaining or arranging for credit;
- failing to disclose, before payment, the total costs to purchase, receive, or use goods or services;
- failing to disclose, before payment, all material restrictions, limitations, or conditions to receive any goods or services; and
- misrepresenting any material aspect of the performance, efficacy, nature, or central characteristics of goods and services.
The settlement also prohibits the defendants from future violations of state law. Finally, the consent judgment contains various recordkeeping and reporting requirements that will assist the FTC and the state in monitoring the defendants' compliance.
The case was investigated by the FTC's Chicago Regional Office together with the Illinois Attorney General's office. The Commission vote to approve the settlement for filing in court was 5-0. The proposed stipulated permanent injunction and final judgment was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, in Chicago, on May 11, 1998, and became binding when it was approved by the court on May 13.
The FTC and the Attorney General acknowledge the assistance it received in this case from the United States Postal Inspection Service, Chicago Division, which provided substantial assistance in the investigation.
NOTE: This consent judgment is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission by the defendant of a law violation. Consent judgments have the force of law when signed by the judge.
Copies of the settlement will be available shortly. Copies of the documents associated with Project Loan Shark are available from the FTC's web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC's Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-FTC-HELP (202-382-4357); TDD for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest news as it is announced, call the FTC NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710.
(FTC Matter No. X980025; (Civil Action No.: 98 C 0059))
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