In a proposed settlement, Mark Alan Conway, who did business out of Atlanta, Georgia as HomeLife Credit Services (HomeLife), has agreed to be permanently banned from any involvement in activities related to credit-related goods or services. Under the agreement, Conway is also prohibited from misrepresenting any fact material to a consumer's decision to make any purchase of goods or services from him, as well as from any future violations of the Federal Trade Commission Act and the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR).
Conway was one of two individuals named as defendants in the FTC's 2000 case against HomeLife Credit Services, a result of "Operation Advance Fee Loan 2000," an aggressive sweep targeting corporations and individuals that falsely promised consumers could obtain loans and credit cards for an advance fee. It is a violation of federal law to request or receive a fee from a consumer in advance of obtaining or arranging a loan or other extension of credit when the seller has guaranteed or represented a high likelihood of success in obtaining or arranging for a loan or extension of credit.
To conceal itself both from complaining consumers and law enforcement, HomeLife used a series of false addresses and mail drops in Los Angeles, California while operating out of a boiler room in Atlanta, Georgia. HomeLife used telemarketers to solicit consumers throughout the United States to apply for unsecured credit cards by falsely promising that, in exchange for a one-time fee of $129.95, consumers would receive credit cards with a $2,500 credit limit. HomeLife debited the fee directly from the consumers' bank accounts, but consumers never received the promised credit cards. Instead of a new credit card, consumers received a package from HomeLife containing a list of banks to which they could contact to apply for a credit card, along with a booklet about maintaining good credit. Consumers who sent complaints to the address on the company's letterhead had their mail returned "undeliverable."
The FTC filed its complaint in June, 2000 in federal court in the Central District of California against "One or More Unknown Persons doing business as HomeLife Credit Services." The two-count complaint alleged that the defendants violated the FTC Act and the TSR by misrepresenting that consumers had been approved for an advance fee credit card. Judge Carlos Moreno issued a temporary restraining order and an asset freeze over all of HomeLife Credit Services' assets. In September 2000, the Commission amended the complaint to specifically name Mark Alan Conway and William Anderson, both of Atlanta, Georgia, as individual defendants.
The stipulated final judgment, which required the court's approval, bans Conway from engaging in any activities relating to the advertising, marketing, telemarketing, offering for sale or sale of any credit-related goods or services, or assisting others in the same conduct. The judgment also prohibits Conway from making any misrepresentations of material fact in connection with the sale of any services related to credit cards, loans or other extensions of credit, including claims about the likelihood of a consumer receiving a credit card or extension of credit.
In addition to the ban, the settlement contains a suspended judgment of $338,940 to be due immediately if it is found that Conway made any false representations on his financial statements to the FTC. The settlement also requires Conway to stop any collection attempts and to return any uncashed checks to consumers. He is also prohibited from selling his customer lists. Finally, the settlement contains various recordkeeping and reporting requirements to assist the FTC in monitoring the defendant's compliance.
The Commission vote authorizing staff to file the stipulated final judgment was 5-0. It was filed in the U.S. District Court, Central District of California, Western Division, on August 24, 2001, and signed by the judge on August 27, 2001.
NOTE: This stipulated final judgment and order is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission by the defendant of a law violation. Stipulated final judgments have the force of law when signed by the judge.
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, 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 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.
Jeffrey Klurfeld or Jennifer Larabee
Western Region - Los Angeles
(FTC Matter No. X000078)
(Civil Action No. 00-06154 CM (Ex))