Two Florida companies and their CEO will be permanently barred from offering payment-processing services to settle Federal Trade Commission allegations that they aided a criminal student debt relief scam that bilked $62 million from thousands of students and their families.
According to the FTC’s complaint, Moneta Management, LLC, Moneta Management, Inc., and their CEO Michael Todd Greene knowingly provided false or deceptive information to credit card and ACH processors to obtain merchant processing for the scam operated by Brandon Frere and his three companies. Frere and his companies reached a settlement with the FTC in November 2020 and also pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges in 2019.
Greene and his companies submitted payment processing applications that concealed Frere’s scam, denied that Frere and his companies were offering consumers prohibited debt relief services, and ignored repeated warnings and direct evidence that Frere’s scam was defrauding consumers and violating the Telemarketing Sales Rule, according to the complaint. The accounts that Greene and his companies helped create for Frere’s scam allowed the processing of credit card and debit payments from consumers.
As part of the settlement with the FTC, Greene and his two companies will be barred from payment processing, acting as a sales agent or independent sales organization, and from assisting and facilitating unfair and deceptive trade practices. The proposed final order also imposes a monetary judgment of $28.6 million on Greene and his companies, which will be partially suspended after payment of $20,493 due to their inability to pay the full amount. They will be required to pay the full amount if they are found to have misrepresented their finances.
The Commission voted 4-0-1 to file the complaint and proposed final order. Chair Lina Khan did not participate. The FTC filed the complaint and final order in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. The Court approved the final order on July 8, 2021.
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. Stipulated final orders 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.