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The Federal Trade Commission and the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI) are taking action against various companies doing business as Home Matters USA, Academy Home Services, Atlantic Pacific Service Group, and Golden Home Services America, and the owners of the companies, Dominic Ahiga and Roger Scott Dyer, for operating a sham mortgage relief operation that misled consumers and cost them millions. In the first case brought jointly by the two agencies, the FTC and DFPI allege that the companies charged consumers thousands of dollars with false promises they would negotiate with consumers’ mortgage lenders to alter their loans, at times even representing they were affiliated with government COVID-19 relief programs. A federal court has temporarily shut down the operation and frozen the assets of the defendants in the case.
The court’s orders bar the individuals and their companies from directly or indirectly engaging in telemarketing, debt relief services, and making any misrepresentations or unsubstantiated claims about any product or service.
FTC Obtains $195 Million Judgment, Permanent Ban on Telemarketing and Selling Healthcare Products Against Simple Health Over Charges It Sold Sham Health Insurance
California-based Lead Generator Agrees to Settlement Banning It from Making or Assisting Others in Making Telemarketing Calls, Including Robocalls
On January 2, 2024, the Department of Justice on referral from the FTC filed a complaint alleging that California-based lead generator Response Tree LLC and its president, Derek Thomas Doherty operated more than 50 websites designed to trick consumers into providing their personal information for supposed mortgage refinancing loans and other services. These telemarketing campaigns, which made robocalls and calls to numbers on the DNC Registry, were illegal, as the telemarketers did not have consumers’ consent to be called.
Under a proposed order settling the FTC’s charges, Response Tree and Derek Thomas Doherty will be banned from making or assisting anyone else in making robocalls or calls to phone numbers on the FTC’s Do Not Call (DNC) Registry.
FTC Returns More than $3 Million to Businesses that Paid for HomeAdvisor Memberships, Announces Claims Process for Additional Refunds
FTC, Florida Lawsuit Leads To Restrictions on Chargebacks911, Prohibits Deceptive Efforts to Stop Consumers From Reversing Disputed Charges
The Federal Trade Commission and State of Wisconsin are taking action against Wisconsin auto dealer group Rhinelander Auto Center, its current and former owners, and general manager Daniel Towne for deceiving consumers by tacking hundreds or even thousands of dollars in illegal junk fees onto car prices and for discriminating against American Indian customers by charging them higher financing costs and fees.
The defendants have agreed to proposed court orders that will require Rhinelander’s current owners and Towne to stop their unlawful practices and provide $1.1 million to be used for refunds to consumers.
FTC and Wisconsin Take Action Against Rhinelander Auto Center for Illegally Discriminating Against American Indian Customers and Charging Unlawful Junk Fees
Online Shoe Seller Hey Dude, Inc. to Pay $1.95 Million for Violating FTC’s Mail, Internet, and Telephone Order Rule and Suppressing Negative Consumer Reviews
The FTC and six states filed a lawsuit against rental listing platform Roomster Corp. and its owners John Shriber and Roman Zaks for allegedly duping consumers seeking affordable housing by paying for fake reviews and then charging for access to phony listings. Separately, the FTC and the states filed a proposed order against Jonathan Martinez—who allegedly sold Roomster tens of thousands of fake reviews—requiring him to pay $100,000 and cooperate in the FTC’s case against Roomster.
FTC and DOJ Send More Than $9 Million in Refunds to People Who Lost Money to a Student Loan Debt Relief Scheme
Operators of “Blessing Loom” Scheme Banned from Multi-Level Marketing As a Result of Pyramid Scheme Charges Brought by the FTC and Arkansas
The Federal Trade Commission and the state of Arkansas sued the operators of a “blessing loom” investment program, alleging that it has operated as an illegal pyramid scheme that bilked tens of millions of dollars from thousands of consumers, and targeted African Americans and harmed people struggling financially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In their joint complaint, the FTC and Arkansas charged that the operators of Blessings in No Time (“BINT”) have lured people into joining their program by falsely promising investment returns as high as 800 percent. The complaint alleges that some BINT members paid as much as $62,700 to participate. In reality, though, as in other pyramid schemes, the vast majority of participants have lost money, the complaint alleges.
BINT’s operators are banned from the business of multi-level marketing as a result of enforcement actions taken by the Federal Trade Commission and the State of Arkansas alleging the operation of an illegal pyramid scheme.