As a result of a Federal Trade Commission lawsuit, the operators of “The Credit Game,” a credit repair scheme that cost consumers millions of dollars, face a lifetime ban from the credit repair industry in proposed court orders filed today.
Michael and Valerie Rando and their companies, first sued by the FTC in May 2022, would also be required to turn over a wide array of property that would be liquidated and used to provide refunds to consumers harmed by the scam.
“These defendants falsely promised consumers improved credit based on tactics that were both illegal and ineffective,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Our proposed orders will permanently ban these fraudsters from peddling deceptive credit repair tactics to struggling consumers.”
In its complaint against the Randos and their companies, the FTC alleged that the scheme’s operators provided false information to credit reporting agencies regarding consumers’ credit reports. Additionally, the Randos perpetuated the harm to consumers by pitching their customers a supposed business opportunity to create their own bogus credit repair scheme. The complaint also alleged that the scammers encouraged consumers to pay for the bogus services using COVID-19 tax relief funds, which the FTC alleged was a violation of the COVID-19 Consumer Protection Act.
The proposed court orders, which were agreed to by the defendants in the case, include a number of requirements:
- Permanent ban on credit repair: The Randos and their companies are permanently banned from operating or assisting any credit repair service of any kind.
- Prohibition against unsubstantiated claims: The orders would also prohibit the defendants from making claims about the benefits, performance, or efficacy of any good or service without sufficient supporting evidence.
- Turn over possessions: The orders would require the defendants to turn over numerous properties, including: their interest in numerous real estate investments; a Lamborghini, Maserati, Land Rover, and a golf cart; and the contents of numerous bank, investment, and life insurance accounts. These assets will be liquidated by a court-appointed receiver and the funds used by the FTC to provide refunds to consumers harmed by the scam.
The orders contain a total monetary judgment of $18,875,613, which is partially suspended based on the defendants’ inability to pay the full amount. If the defendants are found to have lied to the FTC about the financial status, the full judgment would be immediately payable.
The Commission vote approving the stipulated final orders was 4-0. The FTC filed the proposed order in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.
NOTE: Stipulated final orders or injunctions 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.