Defendant in Bogus Credit Card Offer Case Banned from Selling Credit-Related Products

For Release


Christopher Tomasulo, a defendant named in a Federal Trade Commission lawsuit against an operation that sold bogus credit cards through telemarketing, is banned from selling credit-related products. In 2002, the FTC filed charges against Bay Area Business Council, Inc., Peter J. Porcelli, II, and others for offering consumers a low-interest unsecured MasterCard credit card for a one-time processing fee. The defendants requested and debited the fee, $199 or more, from consumers’ bank accounts, but no consumers received credit cards. Instead, they received a package containing a non-functional “dummy” card with a MasterCard logo and the name “Bay Area Business Council” or “1st American Leisure Card” on the front, and a non-magnetic black strip on the back. After receiving the defendants’ package, consumers learned for the first time that, for additional fees, they could obtain a debit card, but never a credit card. The settlement announced today with Christopher Tomasulo, alleged in the FTC’s amended complaint to be an officer of the defendant corporations, covers his supervision of the defendants’ customer service and sales operations. The settlement bans Tomasulo from selling credit-related products, and prohibits him from misrepresenting any fact material to a consumer’s decision to purchase any product or service.

In August 2002, the FTC filed a complaint against Bay Area Business Council, Inc.; Bay Area Business Council Customer Service Corp.; American Leisure Card Corp.; Peter J. Porcelli, II; Christopher Tomasulo; and Bonnie A. Harris, as part of the “Operation No-Credit” law enforcement sweep. The FTC amended its complaint in October 2002 to include: Bay Memberships, Inc.; Bay Vacations, Inc.; Sr. Marketing Consultants, Inc.; and Special Technologies, Inc.

In April 2004, a federal district court granted the FTC’s motion for summary judgment and issued a permanent injunction against the other defendants in the case. The Court’s final order bans the defendants from telemarketing and from selling credit-related products. The order also prohibits the defendants from making the types of misrepresentations cited in the FTC’s Amended Complaint, and from misrepresenting any fact material to a consumer’s decision to purchase the defendants’ products or services. In addition, the order requires the defendants to pay more than $12 million in consumer redress.

The settlement announced today pertains only to Tomasulo. In addition to the ban against selling credit-related products, the settlement contains a judgment for more than $12 million, which is suspended based on his inability to pay. The judgment will become payable in full if it is found that Tomasulo misrepresented his financial condition.

The Commission vote authorizing staff to file the proposed stipulated final judgment and order as to Christopher Tomasulo was 5-0. It was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, on January 26, 2005. The judge entered the stipulated final judgment and order on February 2, 2005.

Copies of the stipulated final judgment and order are available from the FTC’s Web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish (bilingual counselors are available to take complaints), or to get free information on any of 150 consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357), or use the complaint form at http://www.ftc.gov. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

(FTC Matter No. X020103; Civil Action No.: 02-C-5762)

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