|DEBRA A. VALENTINE
RUSSELL W. DAMTOFT
MICHAEL A. JOHNS
CHARLES M. STEELE
Attorneys for Plaintiff
FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
Plaintiff, the Federal Trade Commission ("Commission"), by its undersigned attorneys, alleges as follows:
1. The Commission brings this action under Section 13(b) of the Federal Trade Commission Act (FTC Act), 15 U.S.C. § 53(b), to obtain preliminary and permanent injunctive relief, restitution, rescission, disgorgement and other equitable relief for defendants deceptive acts or practices in connection with the sale and offering for sale of credit repair services in violation of Section 5(a) of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. § 45(a).
JURISDICTION AND VENUE
2. This Court has jurisdiction of this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1337(a), and 1345, and 15 U.S.C. § 53(b).
3. Venue in this district is proper under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b) and 15 U.S.C. § 53(b).
4. Plaintiff, the Federal Trade Commission, is an independent agency of the United States Government created by statute. 15 U.S.C. § 41 et seq. The Commission is charged, inter alia, with enforcement of Section 5(a) of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. § 45(a), which prohibits unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce. The Commission is authorized to initiate federal district court proceedings, by its own attorneys, to enjoin violations of the FTC Act in order to secure such equitable relief, including consumer redress, as may be appropriate in each case. 15 U.S.C. § 53(b).
5. Defendant Dixie W. Cooley is an individual doing business as DWC. Ms. Cooley resides at 7009 E. Acoma Dr., Apt. 1019, Scottsdale, Arizona 85254. Ms. Cooley and DWC reside and transact or have transacted business in this District. At all times material to this complaint, acting alone or in concert with others, defendant has formulated, directed, controlled or participated in the acts and practices of DWC, including the acts and practices set forth in this complaint.
6. At all times material to this complaint, defendants course of business, including the acts and practices alleged herein, have been in or affecting commerce, as "commerce" is defined in Section 4 of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. § 44.
DEFENDANTS COURSE OF CONDUCT
7. Since at least 1997, defendant has advertised, promoted, offered for sale, and sold credit repair services to consumers through the use of unsolicited commercial electronic mail messages ("e-mail"), a technique popularly referred to as "spamming."
8. Defendant has claimed that she can improve consumers credit histories, credit records, or credit ratings by assisting them in establishing new credit profiles with credit bureaus by using a taxpayer identification number ("TIN") or alternate social security number in place of their social security number for banking and credit purposes. Defendant has further claimed that use of the TIN in this manner is legal.
9. Typical and illustrative of defendants claims about their credit repair services are the following:
10. Before providing any of the promised services, defendant requests and requires at least partial payment for these services. Defendant has charged $19.95 or more for these services.
DEFENDANTS VIOLATIONS OF SECTION 5 OF THE FTC ACT
11. Section 5(a) of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. § 45(a), provides that unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce are hereby declared unlawful.
12. Misrepresentations of material fact constitute unfair or deceptive acts or practices prohibited by Section 5(a) of the FTC Act.
13. In connection with the advertising, marketing, promotion, offering for sale, or sale of credit repair services, to induce consumers to purchase her services defendant has, directly or by implication, made representations that defendant can legally alter consumers identification to conceal adverse credit information from consumers credit records, credit histories, or credit ratings by obtaining EINs, alternate social security numbers, or TINs for consumers to use, instead of their social security numbers, for credit purposes.
14. In truth and in fact, defendant cannot legally alter consumers identifications to conceal adverse credit information from consumers credit records, credit histories, or credit ratings by obtaining EINs, alternate social security numbers, or TINs for consumers and having consumers use the EINs, alternate social security numbers, or TINs instead of their social security numbers.
15. Therefore, the representation set forth in paragraph 13 is false and misleading and constitutes a deceptive act or practice in or affecting commerce, in violation of Section 5(a) of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. § 45(a).
16. Consumers have suffered or are likely to suffer substantial monetary loss as a result of defendants unlawful acts or practices. Absent injunctive relief by this Court, defendant is likely to continue to injure consumers and harm the public interest.
THIS COURT'S POWER TO GRANT RELIEF
17. Section 13(b) of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. § 53(b), empowers this Court to issue a permanent injunction against defendants violations of the FTC Act and, in the exercise of its equitable jurisdiction, to order such ancillary relief as preliminary injunction, rescission, restitution, disgorgement of profits resulting from defendants unlawful acts or practices, and other remedial measures.
PRAYER FOR RELIEF
WHEREFORE, Plaintiff requests that this Court, as authorized by Section 13(b) of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. § 53(b), and pursuant to its own equitable powers:
RUSSELL W. DAMTOFT
MICHAEL A. JOHNS
CHARLES M. STEELE