Approximately a year after filing an amended complaint and three months after settling with a group of co-defendants, the Federal Trade Commission and Florida Attorney General have filed papers seeking entry of agreed permanent injunctions and monetary judgments against a second group of co-defendants involved in an alleged nationwide debt relief telemarketing scam. The proposed settlements resolve allegations that these co-defendants – a telemarketing company and three of its owners – violated the FTC Act, the Telemarketing Act, and the Telemarketing Sales Rule, and Florida state law prohibiting deceptive and unfair trade practices.
Telemarketing company One Easy Solution LLC and its co-owner and manager Christopher Miles agreed to entry of judgment in favor of the FTC and Florida in the amount of $2,567,174. In exchange for partial suspension of the money judgment, One Easy Solution and Miles agreed to turn over approximately $7,100, with Miles paying $6,600. Florida and the FTC also settled with two other One Easy Solution co-owners: Jason E. Gagnon separately agreed to turn over a 2013 Infiniti G37 automobile, and Matthew B. Thomas will surrender approximately $10,000 and certain jewelry. One Easy Solution’s fourth owner, Kenneth Sallies, has not appeared in the action, and the FTC and Florida are seeking default judgment against Sallies in the amount of $2.5 million.
These settling defendants also agreed to permanent injunctions that bar them from certain practices, including telemarketing and selling debt relief products and services.
Between the settlements with these telemarketing defendants and the earlier settlements announced in September, the FTC and Florida stand to collect over $5 million if the court enters the proposed orders.
The complaint alleged the defendants operated a nationwide debt relief telemarketing scam that promised consumers reduced credit card interest rates and refunds in exchange for an up-front fee ranging from $695 to $1,495, charged to the consumers’ credit cards. The alleged scammers, which included a web of entities controlled by a husband and wife who previously participated in a similar enterprise and a telemarketing agency and its owner, did not deliver on their promises for reduced rates and refunds and instead caused consumers to fall deeper into debt. In June 2015, the district court entered a preliminary injunction, freezing the assets of the scammers and appointing a special receiver.
The amended complaint filed in December 2015 named seven new defendants, including a credit processing company, its three executives, and three co-owners of the telemarketer, and charged credit card laundering, in violation of the FTC Act and the Telemarketing Sales Rule. The amended complaint contained additional allegations of violations of the FTC Act, Telemarketing Act, and Telemarketing Sales Rule. The debt relief and credit card laundering schemes have allegedly operated since at least January 2013.