Defendants Assisted in Nine Cross-Border Telemarketing Scams Targeting U.S. Consumers
A U.S. district court has granted a summary judgment against Ira N. Rubin and default judgments against 22 corporations that Rubin owned or controlled. The final court orders permanently bar Rubin and the corporate defendants from engaging in telemarketing and payment processing activities and impose an $8.6 million judgment against them. Rubin ran Global Marketing Group, an international payment-processing operation that illegally debited millions of dollars from U.S. consumers’ bank accounts on behalf of numerous telemarketing scams.
Rubin’s partner and co-defendant, Kevin Astl, also has reached a settlement with the Commission. The court order settling the charges against Astl prohibits him from engaging in payment processing, bars him from violating the Federal Trade Commission’s Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR), prevents him from disclosing customer information, and imposes a suspended judgment of $5,145,127 against him.
According to the FTC’s amended complaint against the Global Marketing Group defendants, since at least January 2003, the defendants provided substantial support and assistance to at least nine Canadian telemarketing firms that sell non-existent credit cards to U.S. consumers. In return for an advance fee of several hundred dollars, which the defendants debited from consumers’ bank accounts on behalf of the telemarketers, consumers expected to receive an unsecured credit card but instead received either nothing or a worthless “benefits package.”
The complaint alleged that the defendants debited funds from consumers’ bank accounts, deducted their processing fees from the gross proceeds, and forwarded the balance of the proceeds from the deceptive scheme to the telemarketers. The complaint also alleged that in addition to payment processing, the defendants provided other services to fraudulent telemarketers, including customer service, order fulfillment, and list brokering.
The Commission filed its original complaint on December 11, 2006, alleging violations of the FTC Act and the TSR. The complaint named Rubin of Tampa, Florida, as well as seven corporate entities under his control. Rubin’s wife, Phoelicia Daniels, who allegedly has received funds and other property derived unlawfully from consumers’ payments, was named as a relief defendant; the Commission continues to pursue hundreds of thousands of dollars of her assets in probate, following her death. The Commission filed an amended complaint on March 19, 2007, naming Rubin’s attorney, Astl, and 18 additional corporate entities owned or controlled by Rubin and Astl.
Rubin fled the country in January 2008 after being ordered to appear at a hearing to show cause as to why he should not be held in contempt for, among other acts, misappropriating over $500,000 of frozen assets, concealing $95,000 in credit card charges, lying on his sworn financial statement, and hiding 13 boxes of corporate records. On January 30, 2008, after Rubin failed to appear at the court-ordered contempt hearing, a U.S. district judge found Rubin in contempt and issued a warrant for his arrest. Rubin remains at large and is believed to be residing in Costa Rica.
The Commission vote approving the stipulated final order against defendant Kevin D. Astl was 4-0. It was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division, on January 5, 2009, and entered by the court on February 17, 2009.
NOTE: Stipulated final judgments and orders are for settlement purposes only and do not constitute an admission by the defendants of a law violation. Consent judgments have the force of law when signed by the judge.
Copies of the Commission’s documents filed in this matter can be found as a link to this press release on the FTC’s Web site. The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC ’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,500 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s Web site provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.
(FTC File No. 062-3186; Civ. No. 8:06-cv-2272-T-30TGW)
(Global Marketing Group.final.wpd)
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