The Federal Trade Commission is taking legal action to halt a scheme that allegedly deceived consumers with mailers supposedly directing them how to obtain federal COVID-19 stimulus benefits, which instead lured them to a used car sale.
The mailers sent by Traffic Jam Events, LLC and its owner, David J. Jeansonne II, were labeled “IMPORTANT COVID-19 STIMULUS DOCUMENTS” and directed consumers to “relief headquarters” to “claim these stimulus incentives,” the FTC alleged in its lawsuit against the company and Jeansonne.
The envelope used for the defendants’ mailer
The mailers led consumers to believe they could obtain stimulus relief temporarily in person, making multiple references both to the coronavirus pandemic and to a supposed economic stimulus program similar to the program enacted under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), the FTC alleged.
According to the complaint, the defendants’ mailers referred to an address in Florida as “relief headquarters” and “designated local headquarters,” telling consumers that they must “must claim these stimulus incentives at your designated temporary 10-day site...” The mailers also include a likeness of the Great Seal of the United States, as well as a mock check, labeled “Stimulus Relief Program.” When consumers arrived, however, they only found a lot hosting a car sale.
The mock check included in the mailer
The FTC’s complaint notes that the defendants have been the subject of prior law enforcement actions in Kansas and Indiana, and that they are currently facing action from the state of Florida related to these mailers.
The FTC’s suit asks the court to stop the defendants’ actions and to require them to provide redress to consumers. The Commission vote authorizing the staff to file the complaint was 4-0-1 with Commissioner Rebecca Kelly Slaughter not participating. The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.
The FTC would like to thank the Florida Office of the Attorney General for its substantial assistance in this matter.
NOTE: The Commission files a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the named defendants are violating or are about to violate the law and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. The case will be decided by the court.
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