The Federal Trade Commission reached settlements with four defendants charged with helping to launder millions of dollars in credit card charges through fraudulent merchant accounts. The settlement orders permanently ban Jay Wigdore, Electronic Payment Solutions of America, and Electronic Payment Services from payment processing and telemarketing. A previously-entered stipulated order against Michael Peterson bans him from payment processing or acting as an independent sales organization or sales agent in the payment processing industry.
According to the FTC, the defendants assisted a deceptive operation known as Money Now Funding, to obtain and maintain merchant accounts that allowed the operation to process almost $6 million through the credit card networks. The FTC charged Wigdore, Electronic Payment Solutions of America, and Electronic Payment Services, and Peterson with violating the Federal Trade Commission Act and the Telemarketing Sales Rule.
In 2013, the FTC sued Money Now Funding for telemarketing worthless business opportunities to consumers and falsely promising thousands of dollars in income. In 2015, the court entered summary judgment and default judgments against certain Money Now Funding defendants, finding that the business opportunities were a complete fraud and that consumers who bought these opportunities lost thousands of dollars each, resulting in more than $7.3 million in harm to consumers.
Monetary judgments of $462,925 against Wigdore, $4.6 million against Electronic Payment Solutions of America, and Electronic Payment Services, and $5.7 million against Peterson, have been suspended due to the defendants’ inability to pay. If the court finds that any defendant misstated or omitted the value of any material asset, the judgment will immediately become due.
The FTC continues to litigate against four other defendants who allegedly played a role in credit card laundering for Money Now Funding.
The Commission vote approving the stipulated final order was 5-0. The U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona entered the final orders for Wigdore, EPSA, and EP Services on January 22, 2021, and for Peterson on August 28, 2019.
The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition, stop deceptive and unfair business practices and scams, and educate consumers. Report fraud, scams, or bad business practices at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Get consumer advice at consumer.ftc.gov. Also, follow the FTC on social media, subscribe to press releases, and read the FTC’s blogs.