The Federal Trade Commission has filed suit recently against a number of companies.
Alliance Document Preparation was doing business in conjunction with EZ Doc Preps, Grads Aid, First Document Aid, SBS Capital Group, Grads United Discharge, SBB Holdings, EZ Doc Preps, Allied Doc Prep, Post Grad Services, First Student Aid, United Legal Center, Post Grad Aid, Alumni Aid Assistance, United Legal Discharge, Elite Consulting Service, First Grad Aid, Grads Doc Prep, Academic Aid Center, Academic Protection, Academy Doc Prep, Academic Discharge, Elite Doc Prep, Premier Student Aid, Benjamin Naderi, Benjamin Pournaderi, Benjamin Brooks, Shawn Gabbaie, Shawn Goodman, Avi Rubeni, Michael Ratliff, Ramiar Reuveni, Rami Reuveni, and Farzan Azinkhan. Additional defendants included Direct Consulting Service and Capital Doc Prep.
In the action filed by the FTC, the FTC states “Since at least April 2015, Defendants have targeted alumni of for-profit colleges who are struggling to repay, or are unable to repay, their federal student loans. They deceptively claim that they will qualify or approve consumers for, or enroll consumers in, programs that provide loan forgiveness, permanently reduced monthly payments, reduced or eliminated interest rates, or loan discharge. Defendants often lead consumers to believe that they are affiliated with or work directly with the U.S. Department of Education (“ED”), the government, or the consumer’s loan servicer, or that they will assume the consumer’s student loans.
In exchange for the promised student loan debt relief, Defendants have charged illegal upfront fees of as much as $1000. Consumers who already cannot afford their loan payments thereby lose substantial sums of money to Defendants, who have generated at least $20 million in revenues from their unlawful scheme.”
The FTC goes on to say, “In telephone calls with consumers, Defendants make multiple misrepresentations regarding their services. For example, Defendants falsely tell consumers they have been qualified for, or approved for reduced monthly payments, often a zero or low monthly payment for the term of the loan, reduced or eliminated interest, loan forgiveness, or discharge. Defendants also falsely tell consumers that they must pay to receive reduced monthly payments, reduced or eliminated interest, loan forgiveness, or discharge. To enhance their credibility and persuade consumers that they are legitimate, Defendants often falsely state or imply that they work with or are affiliated with the ED, the government, or the consumer’s loan servicer. In other instances, Defendants claim that they will assume responsibility for consumers’ student loans, a claim bolstered when they provided consumers with access to a new online loan account maintained by Defendants. Only the ED can establish qualification for ED programs and third parties cannot take over an ED student loan.”
“Defendants promise to enroll consumers in these programs in exchange for an up-front fee that ranges from $400 to $1000. Defendants often allow a consumer to pay the fee in installments over a three-month period, but tell the consumer that they will not secure the promised relief until after the consumer has paid the full amount of the fee. Defendants often create a sense of urgency by falsely claiming that the funding provided by the government or lawsuit settlement may not be available if the consumer does not agree to sign up immediately.”
“Defendants never state or even imply during lengthy telephone sales pitches touting loan forgiveness and permanently reduced monthly payments that Defendants do nothing but fill out forms for ED programs. To the contrary, Defendants gear their entire sales pitch toward convincing often reluctant and financially struggling consumers that if they pay Defendants hundreds of dollars, they will obtain relief from unaffordable monthly loan payments.”
You can read the full complaint filed by the FTC, here.