This week, an administrator working on behalf of the Federal Trade Commission mailed checks to 3,500 consumers nationwide who were defrauded by a group of marketers accused of hawking phony business opportunities. Consumers who were victims of this scam will receive a total of $95,000 in redress. These are legitimate checks, and the FTC urges consumers to cash them.
The reimbursement stems from the February 2008 settlement of a case brought as part of Project Fal$e Hope$, a Commission-led law enforcement sweep that included more than 100 actions filed by the FTC, the Department of Justice, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and other agencies in 11 states. In this case, known as EDI Healthclaims, the FTC alleged that scammers used mass mailings to consumers offering a “work-at-home” business opportunity to earn easy money electronically processing health-care providers’ medical claims for insurance reimbursement.
According to the FTC, the defendants misled consumers by stating they would help them find their first medical billing client and give them a list of providers in their area looking for billing help – after the consumers paid a “licensing fee” of between $4,985 and $5,985. Consumers, who were promised they would earn at least $1,200 a month, often made nothing and lost their up-front fee, according to the FTC’s complaint, which can be found at: http://www.ftc.gov/os/caselist/0623033/061212cmp0623033.pdf.
The redress checks are valid for 60 days from the date they are issued. Consumers should call 1-877-678-0676 with any questions. The FTC never requires the payment of money up front, or the provision of additional information, before consumers cash redress checks issued to them.
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 1,800 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.