A rogue payment processor and its owners agreed to be permanently banned from payment processing in order to settle charges by the Federal Trade Commission and the State of Ohio that they unlawfully processed payments for multiple scam operations.
Madera Merchant Services, LLC, B&P Enterprises, LLC, and their owners Bruce C. Woods and Patricia Woods, along with Madera officer Victor Rodriguez, allegedly helped perpetuate a number of scams targeted by the FTC and other consumer protection agencies. The FTC and State of Ohio filed their complaint against the defendants in July 2019.
“Payment processors who help scammers steal people’s money are a scourge on the financial system,” said Andrew Smith, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “When we find fraud, we are committed to rooting out payment processors and other companies who actively facilitate and support these fraudulent schemes.”
The defendants used remotely created payment orders and remotely created checks (RCPOs) to facilitate payments for unscrupulous merchants, allowing them to draw money from consumer victims’ bank accounts. The FTC alleged that the defendants used RCPOs to process millions of dollars for student debt reduction and credit card interest reduction telemarketing schemes. The FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule prohibits the use of RCPOs in connection with telemarketing sales.
The stipulated final order prohibits the defendants from taking part in any payment processing activity, as well as from violating the Telemarketing Sales Rule and the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act. It includes a monetary judgment of more than $8.6 million which is mostly suspended due an inability to pay, upon the surrender of the contents of a number of bank accounts along with defendants’ personal property.
The Commission vote approving the stipulated final order was 4-0-1, with Commissioner Rebecca Kelly Slaughter recorded as not participating, and it was entered by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas.
NOTE: Stipulated final orders or injunctions, etc. have the force of law when approved and signed by the District Court judge.
The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition and protect and educate consumers. Learn more about consumer topics at consumer.ftc.gov, or report fraud, scams, and bad business practices at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Follow the FTC on social media, read consumer alerts and the business blog, and sign up to get the latest FTC news and alerts.