Defendants face monetary judgments, bans from credit repair business, and prohibitions on other deceptive practices
The settlements relate to an FTC complaint filed in June 2019 alleging that the defendants targeted consumers with false promises of substantially improving consumers’ credit scores by claiming to remove all negative items and “hard” credit inquiries (which can often change a consumer’s credit score) from consumers’ credit reports. In addition, the FTC alleged the defendants illegally charged upfront fees for their services and advised consumers to mislead credit bureaus and lenders, as well as threatening consumers with lawsuits when they complained or disputed charges.
“These companies promised to clean up people’s credit, but failed to deliver,” said Andrew Smith, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “If anyone says they can remove accurate and current information from your credit report, that’s probably a credit repair scam.”
Under the terms of the settlements, the defendants are permanently banned from operating or promoting any credit repair service. They also are prohibited from misleading consumers about financial services like credit offerings or debt relief and from further violations of the FTC’s regulations and rules, including the Telemarketing Sales Rule.
To resolve the FTC’s allegations that the defendants’ contracts with consumers had unlawful terms, the settlements also prohibit the defendants from using threats, intimidation, confessions of judgment, and other unfair practices to prevent consumers from exercising their rights to dispute charges.
The settlement with defendants Douglas Filter; Marcio G. Andrade; Grand Teton Professionals, LLC; 99th Floor, LLC; Mait Management Inc.; Demand Dynamics LLC; Atomium Corps Inc. (a Wyoming company); Atomium Corps Inc. (a Wyoming company); and First Incorporation Services Inc. (a Wyoming company) includes a monetary judgment of $9,641,982, which is partially suspended due to an inability to pay. The defendants will be required to give the FTC the contents of a number of bank, investment, merchant, and cryptocurrency accounts.
The settlement with defendant Atomium Corps Inc. (a Colorado company) includes a monetary judgment of $3,256,850, which is partially suspended due to an inability to pay. The defendant will be required to give the FTC the contents of several bank and merchant accounts.
The settlement with defendant Startup Masters NJ Inc. (a New Jersey company) includes a monetary judgment of $929,054, which is suspended due to an inability to pay.
If it is determined that any of the defendants in the settlements misled the FTC about their financial condition, they will be required to pay the full amount of the judgments.
The Commission votes approving the stipulated final orders were 5-0. The FTC filed the proposed orders in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut.
NOTE: Stipulated final orders have the force of law when approved and signed by the District Court judge.
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