The Federal Trade Commission is mailing refunds to 100 merchants throughout the country who were defrauded by an operation that provided debit and credit card processing services. The FTC alleged that Aaron Lee Rian, Karely McCarthy, aka Karly Speelman, Merchant Processing Inc., Direct Merchant Processing Inc., Vequity Financial Group Inc., and PPI Services Inc. falsely promised they would save small businesses hundreds to thousands of dollars a year in processing fees by offering lower rates than their current credit card processing service. The defendants also allegedly falsely promised that they would buy out merchants’ equipment leases if they accepted the offer, failed to disclose fees, and concealed pages of fine print until after merchants had signed contracts. Settlements with Rian and McCarthy banned them from marketing card processing goods or services for sale or lease, and required the sale of certain assets to provide funds for refunds.
Approximately $345,000 is being returned to merchants; the amount of payment will vary from about $100 to more than $25,000, depending upon how much the merchant paid. Those who receive the checks from the FTC’s redress administrator should cash them within 60 days of the date they were issued. The FTC never requires consumers to pay money or provide information before redress checks can be cashed. Merchants with questions should call the redress administrator, Analytics Inc., 1-888-768-2059, or visit www.FTC.gov/refunds.
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 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics. Like the FTC on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.