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In February 2018, the Federal Trade Commission charged student loan debt relief scammer Brandon Frere and his companies, including Ameritech Financial, with bilking millions of dollars from thousands of consumers by falsely promising that consumers’ monthly payments would go towards paying off their student loans. In October 2020, Frere and his companies settled FTC’s charges. In August 2023, the FTC and the Department of Justice sent more than $9 million in refunds to consumers who lost money.
As a result of a Federal Trade Commission lawsuit, the operators of an alleged credit card debt relief scheme based in Tennessee have agreed to court orders that would permanently ban them from telemarketing and selling debt relief products or services.
Sean Austin, John Steven Huffman, John Preston Thompson, and their affiliated companies were charged by the FTC in November 2022 with taking tens of millions of dollars from people by falsely promising to eliminate or substantially reduce their credit card debt. At the time, a federal court agreed to the FTC’s request to temporarily freeze the defendants’ assets and appoint a receiver over the businesses while the case took place.
The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, Nashville Division, entered the final orders on April 28, 2023.
FTC, Law Enforcers Nationwide Announce Enforcement Sweep to Stem the Tide of Illegal Telemarketing Calls to U.S. Consumers
FTC and Federal and State Partners to Announce Nationwide Robocall and Telemarketing Enforcement Sweep in Chicago on July 18
In November 2019, the Federal Trade Commission obtained a temporary restraining order halting an operation that bilked consumers out of millions of dollars by pretending to be affiliated with the U.S. Department of Education and falsely promising student loan debt relief. In September 2020, the FTC announced several of the operators settled FTC charges and agreed to pay at least $835,000. In January 2022, the FTC announced that the remaining defendants in the case are banned from providing student loan debt relief services in settlements with the FTC. The defendants are required to forfeit all of their frozen funds held by the receiver. In June 2023, the FTC sent more than $3.3 million to consumers harmed by this scam.
At the request of the Federal Trade Commission and the Florida Attorney General's Office, a federal court temporarily halted an alleged sham credit card interest rate reduction operation that often targeted financially distressed consumers and older adults in July 2020. In February 2022, the FTC announced that the operators are permanently banned from the debt relief industry as part of court orders resolving charges by the FTC and Florida AG’s Office.
The Federal Trade Commission has stopped a pair of student loan debt relief schemes that it says bilked students out of approximately $12 million by using deceptive claims about repayment programs and loan forgiveness that did not exist. The agency also says the companies falsely claimed to be or be affiliated with the Department of Education and told students that the illegal payments the companies collected would count towards their loans.
After the FTC filed complaints seeking to end the deceptive practices, a federal court temporarily halted the two schemes and froze their assets.
FTC Lawsuit Leads to Permanent Ban from Debt Relief, Telemarketing for Operators of Debt Relief Scam
In February 2023, the FTC sued to stop an interconnected web of operations responsible for delivering tens of millions of unwanted VoIP and ringless voicemail phony debt service robocalls to consumers nationwide. DOJ filed the complaint in federal court on the FTC’s behalf. The DOJ also filed a proposed consent order against one of the companies and individuals involved in the operation, which would, if approved by the court, bar them from making further misrepresentations about debt relief services and ordering them to comply with the TSR.
At the request of the Federal Trade Commission, a federal court has temporarily halted a bogus credit repair scheme known as The Credit Game for promoting a series of lies and deceptions. The FTC alleged the scheme’s operators lied to credit reporting agencies regarding information on consumers’ credit reports and pitched consumers a supposed business opportunity that was essentially starting their own bogus credit repair scheme.
In a complaint filed against The Credit Game and its owners, Michael and Valerie Rando, the FTC alleged that the company has illegally charged consumers hundreds and even thousands of dollars for credit repair services of little to no value and told consumers to “invest” their COVID-19 governmental benefits on their unlawful services. In some cases, the company’s “services” included filing false identity theft reports with the FTC and encouraging consumers to take actions that were unlawful. The FTC asked the court to immediately halt the company’s illegal operations, appoint a receiver, and freeze the defendants’ assets. The court issued a temporary restraining order doing so on May 3, 2022.
As a result of a Federal Trade Commission lawsuit, the operators of “The Credit Game,” a credit repair scheme that cost consumers millions of dollars, face a lifetime ban from the credit repair industry in proposed court orders filed today.
Michael and Valerie Rando and their companies, first sued by the FTC in May 2022, would also be required to turn over a wide array of property that would be liquidated and used to provide refunds to consumers harmed by the scam.
Federal Trade Commission, California Take Action To Shut Down Mortgage Relief Operation that Preyed on Struggling Homeowners
Federal Trade Commission Sends More than $822,000 to Students Deceived by Student Advocates’ Debt Relief Scam
In September 2019, the FTC announced a complaint against the operators of two student loan debt relief schemes, and a financing company that assisted them, with bilking millions of dollars from consumers. The FTC alleged Manhattan Beach Ventures and Equitable Acceptance Corporation and Student Advocates Team, and the financing company that assisted them illegally charged upfront fees that the companies led consumers to believe went towards their student loans, and falsely promised that their services would permanently lower or even eliminate their loan payments or balances. On August 18, 2022, the FTC it was sending more than $822,000 back to defrauded consumers.
The operators of a scheme that conned consumers into paying non-existent debts will be permanently banned from the debt collection business and from misleading consumers about debt in a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission.
The Federal Trade Commission is sending payments totaling more than $1 million to 1,966 consumers who were harmed by a debt collection scheme that conned consumers into paying debts they did not owe. The defendants used several names including GAFS Group, Global Mediation Group, and Mediation Services.
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