In September 2019, the operators of a deceptive negative option scheme agreed to a court-ordered preliminary injunction temporarily barring them from a wide range of conduct. The preliminary injunction stops the defendants from misleading consumers about supposedly “free trial” offers, enrolling them in unwanted continuity plans, billing them without their authorization, and making it nearly impossible for them to cancel or get their money back. In June 2022, the Commission announced it was returning $5.4 million to defrauded consumers.
Every year the FTC brings hundreds of cases against individuals and companies for violating consumer protection and competition laws that the agency enforces. These cases can involve fraud, scams, identity theft, false advertising, privacy violations, anti-competitive behavior and more. The Legal Library has detailed information about cases we have brought in federal court or through our internal administrative process, called an adjudicative proceeding.
The FTC and the State of Maine’s complaint against Health Research Laboratories and its principal, announced in November 2017, alleged that the defendants deceptively marketed two of their health products, BioTherapex and NeuroPlus. In November 2018, the FTC mailed 16,596 checks totaling more than $750,000 to consumers who bought the two deceptively marketed supplements. The FTC and State of Maine subsequently filed a motion seeking a contempt order against the defendants in December 2019, for allegedly violating the final Commission order by continued to market and sell dietary supplements with claims that were not supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence. In November 2020, the FTC staff discontinued its contempt action and filed an administrative complaint against the defendants. The FTC announced a proposed order settling the complaint in March 2020.
The Federal Trade Commission obtained an order permanently banning a payment processor that facilitated a fraudulent student loan debt relief scheme from processing debt relief payments. The order also requires the company and its owner to surrender $500,000 to the FTC for consumer redress.
The FTC’s complaint against Automatic Funds Transfer Services, Inc. (AFTS) and its owner, Eric Johnson, alleges that AFTS processed at least $31 million in consumer payments for a fraudulent student loan debt relief scheme sued by the FTC in 2019. The debt relief scheme used numerous names, including The Student Loan Group (SLG).
The funder and servicer of the payment plans used by consumers to pay for expensive and often ineffective investment “trainings” from Online Trading Academy (OTA) will be required to offer debt forgiveness to consumers under a proposed settlement with the Federal Trade Commission.
Universal Guardian Acceptance, LLC (UGA) and Universal Account Servicing, LLC (UAS), have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they facilitated consumers’ payments to OTA, when they knew or should have known that OTA was deceiving consumers.
The Federal Trade Commission’s complaint against FleetCor, a company that sells fuel card services to businesses, alleges that it has charged customers at least hundreds of millions of dollars in hidden fees after making false promises about helping customers save on fuel costs. The case was filed in December 2019.
Moneta Management, LLC, Moneta Management, Inc., and their CEO Michael Todd Greene settled FTC allegations that they knowingly provided false or deceptive information to credit card and ACH processors to obtain merchant processing for a student debt relief scam operated by Brandon Frere and his three companies.
The Federal Trade Commission is sending full refunds totaling more than $11 million to consumers who lost money to a bogus credit card interest rate reduction scheme operated by E.M. Systems & Services.
The FTC and the State of Florida alleged that the company’s owners, Steven D. Short and Karissa L. Dyar, used a variety of phony business names with associated websites, cold-called consumers with credit card debt and falsely promised to save them thousands of dollars by reducing their credit card interest rates. The FTC says that the defendants charged an up-front fee between $695 and $1,495, and falsely promised to provide refunds to consumers if they failed to reduce the interest rates.
In April 2021, the FTC used funds from this case to provide $11 million in redress to consumers harmed by the E.M. Systems and Services scam.
Online children’s education company Age of Learning, Inc., which operates ABCmouse, will pay $10 million and change its negative option marketing and billing practices to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it made misrepresentations about cancellations and failed to disclose important information to consumers, leading tens of thousands of people to be renewed and charged for memberships without proper consent. The complaint also alleges the Southern California-based company unfairly billed ABCmouse users without their authorization and made it difficult for consumers to cancel their memberships, preventing consumers from avoiding additional charges. In April 2021, the FTC announced it was sending $9.7 million in refunds to defrauded consumers.
Complete Merchant Solutions, LLC (CMS) and its former CEO, Jack Wilson, have settled Federal Trade Commission charges that they illegally processed millions of dollars in consumer credit card payments for fraudulent schemes when they knew or should have known that the schemes were defrauding consumers. Those schemes included Apply Knowledge and Tarr, which were ultimately shut down by an FTC enforcement action, and USFIA, which was shut down following an enforcement action by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Approximately $147 million is being mailed to 33,000 consumers in the second distribution of refunds resulting from the law enforcement actions brought against Western Union by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Affected consumers are receiving compensation for 100 percent of their verified losses. This is the second refund distribution resulting from the agencies’ actions against Western Union. DOJ is still reviewing petitions from consumers who were harmed by Western Union’s practices, and will be providing opportunities for consumers who have not yet applied for refunds to file claims.
Globex Telecom, Inc. and an affiliated company will pay a total of $1.9 million to settle Federal Trade Commission and State of Ohio charges that they facilitated a scheme that peddled bogus credit card interest rate relief, illegally charging consumers millions of dollars. The settlement marks the end of the FTC’s first consumer protection case against a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service provider.
The FTC and Ohio alleged that Globex provided a company called Educare Centre Services with the means to make calls to U.S. consumers, including illegal robocalls, to market Educare’s phony credit card interest rate reduction services.
The FTC and Ohio charged that both Globex and Educare were controlled by Mohammed Souheil, Globex’s former CEO and president, who was named in the lawsuit along with a number of other corporations and individuals.
The operators of a worldwide negative option scam have agreed to settle FTC charges that they deceptively advertised “risk-free” trial offers for only the cost of shipping and handling, but then charged consumers full price for the trial product and enrolled them in expensive, ongoing continuity plans without their knowledge or consent.
In their complaint against Madera Merchant Services and B&P Enterprises, the Federal Trade Commission and the Ohio Attorney General allege that the companies generated and processed remotely created payment orders (RCPOs) or checks that allowed many unscrupulous merchants, including deceptive telemarketing schemes, to withdraw money from their victims’ bank accounts. The FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rules (TSR) specifically prohibits the use of RCPOs in connection with telemarketing sales. The court issued temporary restraining orders against Madera Merchant Services and B&P Enterprises, halting their operations and freezing their assets. The defendants and the FTC have agreed to a stipulated Preliminary Injunction in this matter. The defendants agreed to a settlement with the FTC in 2020 that permanently banned them from payment processing.
A payment processor that allegedly ignored clear warning signs its client was operating an unlawful business coaching and investment scheme will be barred from processing payments in the business coaching field under a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission.
According to the FTC’s complaint against California-based QualPay, the company for years processed payments for MOBE, a scheme the FTC alleged charged consumers hundreds of millions of dollars for worthless business coaching products, and that Qualpay ignored numerous signs that MOBE was a fraudulent business.
One of the biggest payment processing companies and its former executive will pay more than $40.2 million to settle Federal Trade Commission charges they knowingly processed payments and laundered, or assisted laundering of, credit card transactions for scams that targeted hundreds of thousands of consumers.
The FTC alleged that First Data Merchant Services, LLC and its former vice president, Chi “Vincent” Ko, allegedly ignored repeated warnings from employees, banks, and others that they were laundering, or assisting laundering, and facilitating payments for companies that were breaking the law over a number of years.
Progressive Leasing, a company that markets rent-to-own payment plans in tens of thousands of retail stores nationwide, will pay $175 million to settle Federal Trade Commission charges it misled consumers about the true price of items purchased through its plans.