FTC Action Bans Scammers from Advance Fee Recovery Business

Targeted Victims of Timeshare Resale and Investment Scams

For Release

The operators of an advance fee recovery scheme that falsely claimed it could recover money for consumers that they had lost to telemarketing scams will be banned from selling recovery services, and from telemarketing, under a court order issued at the Federal Trade Commission’s request.

The court order resolves a 2014 FTC complaint that charged Consumer Collection Advocates and Michael Robert Ettus with illegally collecting money from consumers, many of them elderly people harmed by timeshare resale and precious metal investment frauds. The court subsequently prohibited the defendants, pending resolution of the case, from misrepresenting that consumers who bought their services would recover, or were likely to recover, a substantial portion of money they had lost.

The final order of permanent injunction announced today also prohibits the defendants from misrepresenting any product or service, collecting payments for any recovery service, selling rights to collect for such service, profiting from customers’ personal information, and failing to properly dispose of customer information. The order imposes a judgment of more than $2.8 million.

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida issued the final order of permanent injunction on September 28, 2015. The court granted the FTC’s motion for summary judgment on September 9, 2015. The defendants have appealed the court’s decision.

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

Contact Information

Frank Dorman
Office of Public Affairs

Barbara E. Bolton
FTC Southeast Region