Student Loan Assistance Programs

FTC Halts Deceptive Student Debt Relief Scheme that Bilked Consumers out of Millions

Written by Steve Rhode

It appears two past names in debt relief got together again to launch a new debt relief scheme. Back in 2010, I wrote a piece about Provident Law Group that was involved in the mortgage modification business.

“I was told Duong is not an attorney and has a background in brokering sub-prime mortgages. It is alleged that Duong hooked up with attorney Brian J. Colombana to be the front man, in the Liberty Law operation to make it seem like it was a real law firm. My source assures me that it was not.”

The Federal Trade Commission alleged that a California-based student debt relief scheme bilked consumers out of millions of dollars using false promises that they could reduce their monthly payments, or eliminate or reduce their student loan debt.

A federal court temporarily halted the scheme and froze its assets at the request of the FTC, which seeks to end the deceptive practices.

Operators of the scheme, including recidivist scammer Tuan Duong, falsely promoted a 96 percent success rate in reducing consumers’ student loan payments, according to the FTC’s complaint. In fact, the consumers who purchased these services often did not receive any debt relief and lost hundreds of dollars.

The complaint also alleges that the defendants charged consumers illegal upfront fees of $499 or more for these purported debt relief services.



“People struggling to repay their student loan debt are a favorite target for fraudsters,” said Andrew Smith, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “If anyone promises quick student loan forgiveness or asks you to pay in advance for help with your student debt, tell the FTC, because that’s a scam.”

In 2015, Duong was sued by the Commission as part of
Operation Mis-Modification, a joint federal-state enforcement initiative against six fraudulent mortgage relief schemes. In 2016, the court granted the Commission’s motion for summary judgment against Duong. Under the final order entered by the Court, Duong was banned from advertising, marketing, or promoting debt relief services or misrepresenting any fact material to consumers relating to any product or service. The order also required Duong to pay more than $1.7 million in restitution, which Duong failed to pay.

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The defendants in this case are three corporations: Impetus Enterprise, Inc. (also doing business as Aiding Student Relief, Aiding Students & Teachers, Aidnest, Avec Staffing, and National Education Student and Teacher); Fig Tree & Co., LLC (also doing business as Aiding Student Relief, Aiding Students & Teachers, and Aiding Student & Teacher) and relief defendant, Noel Solutions, LLC; and three individual defendants; Tuan Duong (also known as Thomas Duong and Thomas Dinh), Brenda Avitia-Pena, and Brian Colombana.

About the author

Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.

8 Comments

  • I also worked from torre de cali. . We did nt know it was a scam it was all legit through colombian law we had contracts and everything we left home thinking we have a nice job… But all i know he will pay for this….

  • Thomas Dihn (Tuan Duong) and now known as “Jhonathan” still continues to scam people in the United States. The following people who reside in California can provide you information about him and his companies.
    Brenda Avitia: (wife) in charge of mortgage campaign (liberty law) 714-574-6574
    Tony umaña: in charge of mortgage campaign (liberty law) 714-319-2590
    Daniella novellino: controller & accounting 949-892-7901
    Damaris quimbiurco: head of communications & marketing 310-4041090
    Calvin Choy : operations manager 949-466-3611
    The new cellphones Thomas Dihn (a.k.a Jon, jhonathan) has now are 714-688-6578, 949-522-6339, 949-300-6231

    All these people might be still working with him and can provide the state evidence of all his scams throughout the years.

  • Steve, nice to meet you.
    My name is Cynthia Melo and I used to work in the company of this “Mr. Thomas” or whatever it is called, from Colombia.
    It turns out that none of us who worked for him (about 160 people) knew he was a thief and swindler. As a result of all this mess, he owes us a month of full salary.
    In Colombia they closed the company because this “gentleman” could not keep up with his employees, they left us without pay and without liquidations and without the possibility of complaining to anyone, because he and his wife Brenda, do not answer the phones. At the end, we don’t have money to pay rent, bills, and so on.
    So this man’s business affects people worldwide!

  • Hello Steve!
    My name is Cynthia and I used to work in the company of this “Mr. Thomas” or whatever it is called, from Colombia.
    It turns out that none of us who worked for him from Colombia (about 160 people), knew he was a thief and swindler. As a result of all this mess, he owes us a month of full salary.
    In Colombia they closed the company because this “gentleman” could not keep up with his employees, they left us without pay and without liquidations and without the possibility of complaining to anyone, because he and his wife Brenda, do not answer the phones. At the end, we don’t have money to pay rent, bills, and so on.
    So this man’s business affects people worldwide!

    • Thomas Dihn (Tuan Duong) and now known as “Jhonathan” still continues to scam people in the United States. The following people who reside in California can provide you information about him and his companies.
      Brenda Avitia: (wife) in charge of mortgage campaign (liberty law) 714-574-6574
      Tony umaña: in charge of mortgage campaign (liberty law) 714-319-2590
      Daniella novellino: controller & accounting 949-892-7901
      Damaris quimbiurco: head of communications & marketing 310-4041090
      Calvin Choy : operations manager 949-466-3611
      The new cellphones Thomas Dihn (a.k.a Jon, jhonathan) has now are 714-688-6578, 949-522-6339, 949-300-6231

      All these people might be still working with him and can provide the state evidence of all his scams throughout the years.

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