FTC Cracks Down Telemarketing Advisors, LLC, of Wisconsin

For Release: 09/16/2013
FTC Cracks Down On Bogus Medical Discount Scam Targeting Seniors
U.S. and Canadian Defendants Charged With Deception and Illegal Telemarketing

The Federal Trade Commission has moved to shut down a medical dis
PayDayLoancount scheme that scammed seniors across the country by offering phony discounts on prescription drugs and pretending to be affiliated with Medicare, Social Security, or medical insurance providers.

In a complaint filed against the operators of the scam in the United States and Canada, the FTC alleges that seniors in the U.S. were targeted by the deceptive calls.  The callers convinced their victims to turn over their bank account numbers and used that information to debit money from victims’ accounts.

“This scam, which targeted and deceived our nation’s seniors, is as cynical and wanton as they come,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “We look forward to bringing this operation to a halt and working to get relief for the victims.”

According to the FTC’s complaint, the telemarketing calls pitched a prescription drug discount card that, victims were told, would provide substantially discounted or even free prescription drugs.  Many victims were led to believe they had to purchase the card to continue receiving their Medicare, Social Security, or medical insurance benefits.

In fact, the prescription drug discount cards the defendants provided to consumers are available for free by calling a toll-free number or visiting a website.  The cards generally do not provide any discounts to consumers who already have insurance either through a government program or a private insurer.

The scam was run from both sides of the border.  The defendants contacted consumers from a telemarketing boiler room in Montreal.  The U.S. defendants then used the bank account information consumers provided in the calls to take approximately $300 from consumers’ bank accounts using a “demand draft.”  Not all consumers who paid for the purported discount card even received it – some victims received nothing at all for their money.

The defendants are charged with violating Section 5 of the FTC Act by deceptively presenting themselves as government or insurance representatives, as well as by telling consumers that the discount plans they were selling could provide substantial discounts on prescription drugs.  In addition, the defendants are charged with violating the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule for their deceptive acts and for calling consumers whose numbers were on the National Do Not Call Registry.  A federal judge in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois issued a temporary restraining order halting the defendants’ deceptive scheme and freezing their assets.

The U.S.-based defendants in the case include AFD Advisors, LLC, of Wisconsin, which also does business as AFD Medical Advisors; AMG Associates, LLC, of Delaware, which also does business as AMG Medical and AMG Medical Associates; Aaron F. Dupont, individually and as an officer of AFD Advisors and AMG Associates; CAL Consulting, LLC, of Georgia,  which also does business as Clinacall; Charles A. Lamborn, III, individually and as an officer of CAL Consulting; and Park 295 Corp, of New York.

The Canadian-based defendants are 9262-2182 Quebec Inc; Stephanie Scebba, individually and as an officer of 9262-2182 Quebec Inc.; 9210-7838 Quebec Inc; and Fawaz Sebal, also known as Frank Sebag, individually and as an officer of 9210-7838 Quebec Inc.

The FTC would like to thank the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre; Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection; Oregon Department of Justice; and Better Business Bureau of Wisconsin for their valuable assistance with this matter.

The FTC also would like to acknowledge the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Centre of Operations Linked to Telemarketing Fraud (Project COLT) for their valuable assistance.  Launched in 1998, Project COLT combats telemarketing-related crime and includes members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Sureté du Québec, Service de Police de la Ville de Montréal, Canada Border Services Agency, Competition Bureau of Canada, Canada Post, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Secret Service), the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Since its inception, Project COLT has recovered $22 million for victims of telemarketing fraud.

The Commission vote authorizing the staff to file the complaint was 4-0. The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

NOTE:  The Commission files a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest.  The case will be decided by the court.

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.

MEDIA CONTACT:
Jay Mayfield
Office of Public Affairs

202-326-2181
STAFF CONTACT:
William J. Hodor
FTC Midwest Region
312-960-5634

Bestbuy, Target, Walmart Text Spammer Rentbro, Inc. Settle FTC Charges

For Release: 09/17/2013
Text Spammers Settle FTC Charges They Illegally Sent Consumers Bogus Offers for “Free” Gift Cards

An affiliate marketing company and its two principals have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges for allegedly sending out more than 42.5 million

Seal of the United States Federal Trade Commis...

Seal of the United States Federal Trade Commission. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

unwanted and deceptive text messages to consumers. The case is part of the FTC’s continuing crackdown on spam text messages and the settlement prohibits the defendants from sending unwanted texts to consumers, and from misleading consumers about whether they have won gifts or prizes and whether a product is “free” or without cost or obligation.

“FTC action in cases like this one have dramatically reduced the amount of illegal text message spam, especially as it relates to bogus gift card offers” said FTC Midwest Region Director C. Steven Baker. “Not only are spam texts annoying and illegal, but they can also cost consumers money.”

According to the FTC’s complaint, Rentbro, Inc., and its principals, Daniel Pessin and Jacob Engel, residents of Ft. Lauderdale, sent deceptive text messages to millions of consumers telling them they had been selected to receive $1,000 gift cards to major retailers such as Best Buy, Target, and Walmart.

A typical message stated, “Your entry in our drawing WON you a FREE $1,000 Target Giftcard!  Enter “312” at http://www.target.com.tgrz.biz to claim it and we can ship it to you immediately!”

The hyperlink included in the text message brought consumers to a website the defendants created to reinforce the deceptive gift card message and then to a variety of third-party websites where consumers were asked to submit personal information under the guise of claiming their gift cards.  After collecting consumers’ personal information, consumers were told they had to sign up for more than a dozen risky trial offers, none of which was free, to qualify for the promised “free” gift card.

In addition to prohibiting the unlawful conduct, the stipulated order against the defendants requires them to turn over all of their remaining assets and imposes a partially suspended monetary judgment of $377,321, which is all of the money received in connection with the scam.

This case is the second settlement stemming from an FTC enforcement sweep initiated earlier this year against 29 defendants responsible for sending more than 180 million spam text messages.

The Commission’s vote authorizing staff to file the stipulated final order was 4-0. The FTC filed the stipulated final order for permanent injunction in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. The District Court judge signed and approved the order on Sept. 13, 2013.

NOTE: Stipulated orders have the force of law when signed and approved by the District Court judge.

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.

MEDIA CONTACT:
Jay Mayfield
Office of Public Affairs

202-326-2181
STAFF CONTACT:
Joannie Wei
FTC Midwest Region
312-960-5607

FTC Sues Applied Marketing Sciences LLC

For Release: 09/23/2013

FTC Sues to Stop Massive Sweepstakes Scam

At the request of the Federal Trade Commission, a federal court has halted a massive sweepstakes scam that has taken more than $11 million fromPayDayLoanconsumers throughout the United States and dozens of other countries throughout the world, including Canada, the United Kingdom, France, and Japan. The FTC seeks to permanently end the allegedly illegal practices that have continued for seven years and return money to victims.

According to the FTC’s complaint, Liam O. Moran, a resident of Ventura, California, and his companies, mass mail personalized letters to millions of consumers telling them that they have won a large cash prize, typically more than $2 million with bold, large-type statements such as “Over TWO MILLION DOLLARS in sweepstakes has been reserved for you.”  Consumers are told that they can collect the prize by sending in a small fee of approximately $20 to $30. The letters often indicate that recipients are “guaranteed” to receive the prize money if they pay the fee, and they create a sense of urgency by stating that it is a limited-time offer.

In “dense, confusing language,” often on the back of the letters, there are statements in direct conflict with the bold claims of major winnings.  A very careful reader might learn that they in fact have not won, and that the defendants do not sponsor sweepstakes but instead claim only to provide consumers with a list of available sweepstakes.  Consumers frequently fail to see or understand this language and send money to the defendants.  The FTC alleges that this language does not appear designed to correct deceptive statements, but exists mainly as an attempt to provide a defense to law enforcement action.  Consumers get nothing of value in exchange for their payment.

The defendants have sent more than 3.7 million letters during the past two years, including nearly 800,000 letters to people in 156 countries in the first half of 2013. They have collected more than $11 million from consumers since 2009.  The vast majority of the victims of this scam appear to be over 65.

The court order temporarily stops the illegal conduct, freezes the operation’s assets, and appoints a receiver over the corporate defendants while the FTC moves forward with the case.

Moran’s co-defendants are Applied Marketing Sciences LLC; Standard Registration Corporation, also doing business as Consolidated Research Authority and CRA; and Worldwide Information Systems Incorporated, also doing business as Specific Monitoring Service, SMS, Specific Reporting Service, SRS, Universal Information Services, UIS, Compendium Sampler Services, and CSS.

The FTC would like to thank the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Vancouver Police Department, the Metropolitan Police in the United Kingdom, the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, and the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission for their assistance in this case.

To learn how to avoid these kinds of scams, read the FTC’s Prize Offers.

The Commission vote authorizing the staff to file the complaint was 4-0.  The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

NOTE:  The Commission files a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest.  The case will be decided by the court.

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.

MEDIA CONTACT:
Frank Dorman
Office of Public Affairs

202-326-2674
STAFF CONTACT:
Joannie T. Wei
FTC’s Midwest Region
312-960-5607

 

FTC Halt Money Now Funding LLC

For Release: 09/26/2013

FTC Halts Elusive Business Opportunity Scheme
U.S., Canadian Consumers Lost More Than $6 Million

At the Federal Trade Commission’s request, a federal court has halted an elusive business opportunity scheme that allegedly conned more than $6 million from American and Canadian consumers.  The FTC has all PayDayLoan eged that the defendants falsely promised consumers that they could make money by referring merchants in their area to the defendants’ non-existent money-lending service.

The court froze the defendants’ assets and appointed a receiver to take control of the operation, pending litigation.  The FTC seeks to permanently shut down the operation and return money to consumers.

The FTC’s complaint, filed in August 2013, names 20 individuals and eight companies as defendants in the case against the enterprise, which started out doing business under the name “Money Now Funding.”  To avoid detection by law enforcement, they often changed product names, office locations, and merchant identities, at one point changing the company’s name to “Cash4Businesses.”

According to the FTC, the defendants falsely claimed consumers would earn up to $3,000 per month by referring small businesses to the defendants to obtain an average loan or cash advance of $20,000, and that they could operate a profitable business from their home.  Act quickly, they said, or the opportunity would go to someone else.  Consumers paid  from $299 to $499 to buy the business opportunity.

The FTC also charges that after the defendants allegedly promised consumers assistance in finding referrals in their area, the defendants then told consumers that, to succeed, they needed to buy business leads, that is, lists of “high quality” or “pre-approved” merchants supposedly obtained from well-known lenders.  The leads provided to consumers were nothing but random names and email addresses, many with no apparent connection to any business.  The total charge for the so-called leads often exceeded $10,000, and some consumers paid tens of thousands of dollars.

The FTC has alleged that the defendants violated the FTC Act by misrepresenting that consumers would earn substantial income, and violated the agency’s Telemarketing Sales Rule by calling phone numbers listed on the National Do Not Call Registry, calling consumers who had told them not to call, repeatedly calling consumers to annoy them, using obscenities and threats, and failing to pay the Registry access fee.  The FTC also charged the defendants with violating the Commission’s Business Opportunity Rule, which requires business opportunity sellers to provide specific information to help consumers evaluate a business opportunity, and prohibits sellers from making earnings claims without substantiation.

On August 5, 2013, at the FTC’s request, the federal district court for the District of Arizona issued a temporary restraining order against all defendants, freezing assets, and appointing a receiver over the corporate entities.  The court entered a preliminary injunction on August 19, 2013 against all the corporate entities and fifteen of the individual defendants, including Lukeroy Rose and Lance Himes.  On September 13, the court entered a preliminary injunction against defendants Cordell Bess, Clinton Rackley, and Ronald W. Hobbs.

The corporate defendants are

  • Money Now Funding LLC
  • Money Now Funded
  • Cash4Businesses
  • CashFourBusinesses
  • Rose Marketing LLC
  • DePaola Marketing LLC
  • Affiliate Marketing Group LLC
  • Legal Doxs LLC, a/k/a First Business LLC
  • US Doc Assist LLC, a/k/a First Business LLC
  • Affinity Technologies LLC;
  • Marketing Expert Solutions LLC.

The individual defendants are

  • Lukeroy K. Rose, a/k/a Luke Rose
  • Cordell Bess, a/k/a Blaine Thompson, also doing business as JJB Marketing
  • Solana DePaola
  • Jennifer Beckman
  • William D. Claspell, a/k/a Bill Claspell
  • Richard Frost, a/k/a Richard Strickland
  • Dino Mitchell, a/k/a Dino Jones
  • Clinton Rackley, a/k/a Clinton Fosse
  • Lance Himes, a/k/a Lance R. Himes, a/k/a Raymond L. Himes, a/k/a Lance Haist
  • Leary Darling;
  • Donna F. Duckett, also d/b/a D &
  • D Marketing Solutions
  • Della Frost, also d/b/a ZoomDocs
  • Zoom Docs LLC;
  • Christopher Grimes, also d/b/a Elite Marketing Strategies;
  • Alannah M. Harre, also d/b/a National Marketing Group; Ronald W. Hobbs, a/k/a Ron Hobbs also d/b/a Ron Hobbs &
  • Associates and Sales Academy USA LLC;
  • Janine Lilly, also d/b/a Doc Assistant;
  • Michael McIntyre, also d/b/a McIntyre Marketing;
  • Benny Montgomery, also d/b/a Montgomery Marketing;
  • Virginia Rios, also d/b/a V&R Marketing Solutions;
  • Kendrick Thomas, also d/b/a KT Advertising.

The Commission acknowledges the assistance of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Oregon Department of Justice, and the Better Business Bureau of Central, Northern, and Western Arizona.

The Commission vote authorizing the staff to file the complaint was 4-0.  The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona.

NOTE:  The Commission files a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest.  The case will be decided by the court.

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.

MEDIA CONTACT:

Frank Dorman

Office of Public Affairs

202-326-2674

Source: Federal Trade Commission

Related article:

St. Armands Group, LLC a/k/k St Armands Services

Consumer Alert
St. Armand’s

Unlicensed Loans

Updated: September 25, 2013

The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) has received several complaints from consumers against St. Armands Group, LLC and St. Armands Services (St. Armands). They report that St. Armands is involved in unlicensed online payday loans and uses harassing debt collection practices.

St Armands Group

Several consumers alleged that, without permission, St. Armands electronically deposited funds into their accounts and later withdrew funds.

One consumer also reported harassing collection practices. The consumer reported that an individual claiming to be Daniel Baker of Baker Investigations left messages with the consumer’s family members threatening legal action. The consumer also reported than another individual, who claimed to represent Goldstein and Associates, demanded the consumer’s credit card number and refused to provide a mailing address.

The website associated with St. Armands is http://www.starmandsgrouppaydayloan.com. DFI has no other contact information.

St. Armands is not licensed by the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions (DFI). It is not registered to do business in Washington by either the Department of Revenue or the Secretary of State.

Washington state residents are advised that state law provides in RCW 31.45.105(1)(d) and (3) that a payday loan made by an unlicensed lender to a person physically located in Washington is uncollectible and unenforceable in Washington.

Verify Licenses

DFI strongly recommends that residents verify the license of any lender with which they consider doing business with. Consumers are urged to verify licensing status prior to giving the lender nonpublic personal information, such as social security number and checking account access. You can verify a license with DFI at www.dfi.wa.gov or by calling 1.877.RING DFI (746-4334).

Report Fraud

Washington State residents, if you are suspicious of unlicensed activity by a payday lender please contact the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions at 1-877-RING-DFI (746-4334), or online at www.dfi.wa.gov.

If you live in another state, find your state regulator.

If you feel you have been the victim of a loan scam please contact the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357) or online at www.ftc.gov; or contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (855) 411-CFPB or online at www.consumerfinance.gov. Because the scammers have access to bank account information and social security numbers, victims should consider themselves victims of identity theft and take appropriate precautions. The Federal Trade Commission has information for victims of identity theft available online at www.ftc.gov.

If you feel you have been the victim of a loan scam involving the Internet please contact the Internet Crime Complaint Center online at www.ic3.gov.

If you feel you have been the victim of a loan scam and are concerned about your personal financial information, contact your banking institution, and the three major credit bureaus.

<< Back to Consumer Alerts

Discount Advances ~ discountadvances.com

Consumer Alert
Discount Advances Payday Loans

 Unlicensed Loans

September 27, 2013

Also doing business as:

  • discountadvances.com
  • paydaymax.com
  • mapleleafloans.com
  • IGotIt.com

The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) has received complaints from Washington consumers who reported they obtained online payday loans from Discount Advances Payday Loans. The consumers complained of excessive fees and interest, and the entity continuing to withdraw money out of their bank account after the loan had been paid off.

Discount Advances Payday Loans operates a website at http://www.discountadvances.com. On its website, the entity identifies its location and contact information as:

DiscountAdvances, an IGotIt.com, Inc. company
IGotIt.com, Inc.
1712 Pioneer Ave
Suite 1410
Cheyenne, WY 82001
Phone: 800 446-8482

Additionally, the following websites appear to be associated with Discount Advances Payday Loans: Paydaymax.com, IGotIt.com and Mapleleafloans.com.

These entities are not licensed by the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions as small loan or payday lenders. These entities are also not registered to conduct business in Washington State by the Department of Revenue or the Secretary of State.

Uncollectable Debt

Washington residents are advised that state law provides in RCW 31.45.105(1)(d) and (3) that a small loan made by an unlicensed entity to a person physically located in Washington is uncollectible and unenforceable in Washington State.

Verify Licenses

DFI strongly recommends that residents verify the license of any lender with which they consider doing business with. Consumers are urged to verify licensing status prior to giving the lender nonpublic personal information, such as social security number and checking account access. You can verify a license with DFI at www.dfi.wa.gov or by calling 1.877.RING DFI (746-4334).

Report Fraud

Washington State residents, if you are suspicious of unlicensed activity by a payday lender please contact the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions at 1-877-RING-DFI (746-4334), or online at www.dfi.wa.gov.

If you live in another state, find your state regulator.

If you feel you have been the victim of a loan scam please contact the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357) or online at www.ftc.gov; or contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (855) 411-CFPB or online at www.consumerfinance.gov. Because the scammers have access to bank account information and social security numbers, victims should consider themselves victims of identity theft and take appropriate precautions. The Federal Trade Commission has information for victims of identity theft available online at www.ftc.gov.

If you feel you have been the victim of a loan scam involving the Internet please contact the Internet Crime Complaint Center online at www.ic3.gov.

If you feel you have been the victim of a loan scam and are concerned about your personal financial information, contact your banking institution, and the three major credit bureaus.

Cash Advance USA

Consumer Alert
Cash Advance USA

September 18, 2013

The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) received a scamalert
complaint from a consumer who was the target of an advanced fee scam. The consumer received a loan offer from a man who claimed to be John Anderson of Cash Advance USA. The man told the consumer that she could obtain a loan from Cash Advance USA if she first put $250 on a prepaid card and reported the card number. After the consumer did so, another man, who claimed to be Anthony Miller from Western Union, contacted the consumer. That man requested another $200. Ultimately, $250 was withdrawn from the prepaid card and the consumer did not obtain a loan.

There is no indication that Western Union was in fact involved. The phone numbers associated with this scam are 252-296-1625 and 401-380-6800.

Verify Licenses

DFI strongly recommends that consumers deal only with those lenders that are properly licensed to conduct business. Consumers can determine whether lenders are properly licensed using the “Verify a License” feature on DFI’s website at www.dfi.wa.gov/consumers/findcompany.htm.

Report Fraud

Washington State residents, if you are suspicious of unlicensed activity by a lender please contact the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions at 1-877-RING-DFI (746-4334), or online atwww.dfi.wa.gov.

If you live in another state, find your state regulator.

If you feel you have been the victim of a loan scam please contact the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357) or online at www.ftc.gov; or contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (855) 411-CFPB or online at www.consumerfinance.gov. Because the scammers have access to bank account information and social security numbers, victims should consider themselves victims of identity theft and take appropriate precautions. The Federal Trade Commission has information for victims of identity theft available online at www.ftc.gov.

If you feel you have been the victim of a loan scam involving the Internet please contact the Internet Crime Complaint Center online at www.ic3.gov.

If you feel you have been the victim of a loan scam and are concerned about your personal financial information, contact your banking institution, and the three major credit bureaus.