FTC’s busy week – debt collection and payday loans

The Federal Trade Commission has had a busy week.

Yesterday, the FTC announced that it had stopped a "massive payday loan fraud scheme."

The operators of a payday lending scheme that allegedly bilked millions of dollars from consumers by trapping them into loans they never authorized will be banned from the consumer lending business under settlements with the Federal Trade Commission.

The settlements stem from charges the FTC filed last year alleging that Timothy A. Coppinger, Frampton T. Rowland III, and their companies targeted online payday loan applicants and, using information from lead generators and data brokers, deposited money into those applicants’ bank accounts without their permission. The defendants then withdrew reoccurring “finance” charges without any of the payments going to pay down the principal owed. The court subsequently halted the operation and froze the defendants’ assets pending litigation.

Also yesterday, the FTC announced that "a federal court has halted, and frozen the assets of, a nationwide debt relief telemarketing scam that bilked millions of dollars from consumers, pending resolution of allegations made by the [FTC] and the State of Florida."

The scammers, who used a variety of phony business names with associated websites, cold-called consumers with credit card debt and falsely promised that, for an up-front fee of, on average, between $695 and $1,495, they would save them thousands of dollars by reducing their credit card interest rate. The defendants also allegedly falsely promised to refund consumers’ money if they failed.

Today, the FTC announced that it has acted to "Put an End to Fraudulent Debt Collection Scheme that Targeted Spanish-Speaking Consumers."

The operators of a fraudulent debt collection scheme have agreed to be banned from the debt collection business and telemarketing, to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they bilked millions of dollars from Spanish-speaking consumers throughout the country by demanding that they pay bogus debts.

The settlements stem from an FTC complaint filed last year against [several] defendants … alleging that they threatened consumers with lawsuits, arrest and immigration status investigations if they failed to make payments on phony debts. ….

Under the settlement orders, [defendant] Sumore [LLC] and the individual defendants are banned from debt collection activities and telemarketing, and they are permanently prohibited from making the misrepresentations alleged in the complaint, and material misrepresentations about any product or service. These defendants and the relief defendants are also barred from selling or otherwise benefitting from customers’ personal information.

The settlement orders impose judgments on the defendants totaling nearly $6.8 million, which are suspended upon the transfer of approximately $776,000 worth of assets, including Florida real estate. In each case, the full judgment will become due immediately if the defendant is found to have misrepresented his or her financial condition. The order against relief defendant Allianza Inmobiliaria imposes a $172,000 judgment against the company.

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