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Home Matters USA

The Federal Trade Commission and the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI) are taking action against various companies doing business as Home Matters USA, Academy Home Services, Atlantic Pacific Service Group, and Golden Home Services America, and the owners of the companies, Dominic Ahiga and Roger Scott Dyer, for operating a sham mortgage relief operation that misled consumers and cost them millions. In the first case brought jointly by the two agencies, the FTC and DFPI allege that the companies charged consumers thousands of dollars with false promises they would negotiate with consumers’ mortgage lenders to alter their loans, at times even representing they were affiliated with government COVID-19 relief programs. A federal court has temporarily shut down the operation and frozen the assets of the defendants in the case.

The court’s orders bar the individuals and their companies from directly or indirectly engaging in telemarketing, debt relief services, and making any misrepresentations or unsubstantiated claims about any product or service.

Type of Action
Federal
Last Updated
FTC Matter/File Number
2123099
Case Status
Pending

Apex Processing Center

The Federal Trade Commission has stopped scammers who the agency says facilitated an operation to prey on students seeking debt relief. The agency charges that the defendants pretended to be affiliated with the U.S. Department of Education, used deceptive loan forgiveness promises, and falsely claimed they were offering relief under the “Biden Loan Forgiveness” plan to lure students and collect millions in illegal upfront fees. 

After the FTC filed a complaint seeking to end the deceptive practices, a federal court temporarily halted the operations and froze the assets of Apex Processing Center and its owners.

Under proposed orders settling the FTC’s charges, several defendants in the case—including Express Enrollment LLC, Intercontinental Solutions LLC, Ivan Esquivel, and Robert Kissinger —will be permanently banned from the debt relief industry and will be required to turn over their assets to the FTC. Litigation continues against Marco Manzi, the remaining defendant in the case.

Type of Action
Administrative
Last Updated
FTC Matter/File Number
2323061
Case Status
Pending

Financial Education Services

The Federal Trade Commission has taken action against Financial Education Services and its owners, Parimal Naik, Michael Toloff, Christopher Toloff and Gerald Thompson, as well as a number of related companies, for scamming consumers out of more than $213 million.

In response to a complaint filed by the FTC, a federal court has temporarily shut down the sprawling bogus credit repair scheme. The FTC’s complaint alleges that the company preys on consumers with low credit scores by luring them in with the false promise of an easy fix and then recruiting them to join a pyramid scheme selling the same worthless credit repair services to others. 

According to the FTC’s complaint, Michigan-based Financial Education Services, also doing business as United Wealth Services, has operated its scheme since at least 2015. The company claims to offer consumers the ability to remove negative information from credit reports and increase credit scores by hundreds of points, charging as much as $89 per month for their services. Their techniques, according to the complaint, are rarely effective and in many instances harm consumer’s credit scores.

Type of Action
Federal
Last Updated
FTC Matter/File Number
2223030
Case Status
Pending

SL Finance

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.

In early October 2023, SL finance and BCO Consulting were permanently banned from the debt relief industry and ordered to turn over their assets as part of a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission.

Type of Action
Administrative
Last Updated
FTC Matter/File Number
2223138
Docket Number
X230025
Case Status
Closed

American Financial Benefits Center, et al.

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.

Type of Action
Federal
Last Updated
FTC Matter/File Number
172 3027
X180020

ACRO Services

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.

Type of Action
Administrative
Last Updated
Case Status
Pending

Arete Financial Group

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.

Type of Action
Federal
Last Updated
FTC Matter/File Number
192 3040
Case Status
Pending

GDP Network LLC (YF Solution)

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.

Type of Action
Federal
Last Updated
FTC Matter/File Number
192 3137
Case Status
Pending