ICFE eNEWS #16-37 - November 2nd 2016
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FTC Wins Record $1.3 Billion Judgment
The U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada ruled that a Kansas City-based payday lending operation must pay $1.3 billion for deceiving borrowers and illegally charging them hidden and inflated fees. The order stems from a 2012 FTC complaint, which said that AMG Services, Inc. lied when they told borrowers the company would charge them the loan amount plus a one-time finance fee. Instead, AMG allegedly made multiple withdrawals from peoples' bank accounts - charging a new finance fee each time - without disclosing the actual costs of the loan. This is the largest litigated judgment ever obtained by the FTC.
"This significant court judgment demonstrates the FTC's determination to crack down on deceptive payday lenders and the people who run them. No consumer should be victimized by an unlawful scheme like this one, and it is especially detestable when those who can least afford to be charged undisclosed and inflated fees are the ones being targeted." - FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez on the AMG Services, Inc. judgment
Court Stops Device Buyback Scheme
The FTC and the State of Georgia obtained a court order to temporarily freeze the assets of and stop Laptop and Desktop Repair, LLC from allegedly deceiving people with bait-and-switch tactics to buy back their electronic devices. According to the FTC, the company cheated people out of millions by luring them in with high-dollar offers for their smartphones, tablets and other devices, only to give them far less. While the company implied people would get the exact amount of the quote, it allegedly dropped the price to as little as three percent of the quoted amount, even after people sent their devices to the company.
Court Says Weight-loss Supplement Claims Were Misleading
A U.S. Appeals Court upheld a lower court ruling against an affiliate marketing group, compelling them to pay $11.9 million for deceptively promoting LeanSpa, a weight-loss supplement. At the FTC's urging, the court found that LeadClick Media, LLC's network of affiliate marketers used fake news sites to drive internet traffic to LeanSpa's website. The decision is the first by a court of appeals holding the operator of an affiliate marketing network liable for deception by third-party marketers.
FTC Says Healthcare Acquisition Would Reduce Competition
To settle FTC charges that its acquisition would violate the antitrust laws, a large non-profit health system in central Minnesota agreed to release some physicians from "non-compete" contract clauses, which would allow them to join competing practices. The FTC said CentraCare's planned acquisition of SCMG would combine the two largest providers of adult primary care, pediatric, and OB/GYN services in St. Cloud, Minnesota. The proposed settlement permits the acquisition to proceed, but lessens its potential anticompetitive effects by requiring CentraCare to allow a number of physicians to leave the health system and work for other local providers or establish a new practice in the area, and to provide certain financial incentives to a number of departing physicians.
Marketers of Joint Pain Supplement to Settle FTC Charges
Supple LLC agreed to settle FTC charges that it falsely claimed its supplement offered "clinically proven" and "complete and long-lasting relief" from joint pain - even in severe cases. The company heavily aired infomercials featuring its founder and CEO, as well as an "impartial" expert endorser who hosted the Supple infomercial - who happened to be the CEO's ex-wife. But the FTC said there was no solid scientific backing for their claims.
Court Stops Scheme Targeting Older People, Vets
At the FTC's urging, a federal court temporarily shut down a telemarketing scheme targeting older people and veterans. The six companies running the scam - including Advertising Strategies, LLC; Internet Solutions, LLC; Internet Resources Group, LLC, and others - allegedly promised risk-free, huge returns on investments in e-commerce websites. In the end, there was no payday, no returns, no refunds - and no way to contact the company, which raked in over $9 million while many people lost as much as $20,000.
FTC Charges L.A. Auto Group with Deceiving Customers
The FTC filed a complaint against Sage Auto Group to stop its dealerships from allegedly engaging in "yo-yo" financing, and to refund money to the people who had been deceived. Sage dealerships allegedly pressured customers - many who were financially strapped and didn't speak English - into signing contracts to finance automobiles. The FTC says Sage later told people their deals fell through and that they would lose their down payments if they didn't sign new deals, which included less favorable terms.
Your Money Back
One Technologies LP Refunds The FTC will return almost $20 million to more than 145,000 people who were tricked by an online scheme that promised "free" access to credit scores - but billed people a recurring $29.95 monthly fee for credit monitoring they never ordered. Direct Benefits Group Refunds The FTC is mailing a second round of checks to people whom Direct Benefits Group deceptively charged a monthly fee after they applied for payday loans online. The FTC mailed the first round of checks in September 2015. Because money remains in the fund, the FTC is mailing an additional 23,000 checks totaling nearly $990,000.
If you get a refund check from the FTC, deposit or cash it within 60 days of the mailing date. The FTC never requires consumers to pay money or to provide account information before refund checks can be cashed. Want information about the FTC's refund program? Visit ftc.gov/refunds
IN OTHER NEWS:
International Scammers Banned From Business Directory Business
FTC Releases Updated Identity Theft Publications
What glitters isn't always gold - including some investment deals. See what the FTC says about #investmentscams. http://go.usa.gov/xkwmU
Thinking about a credit monitoring service? First learn what you can do yourself. Start w/your free #creditreport. http://go.usa.gov/xkQqU
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