The Federal Trade Commission is sending refunds totaling more than $6.9 million to small businesses, non-profits, and government agencies targeted by an office supply telemarketing scam that charged them for products they did not order. The FTC alleged that defendants’ victims included child care centers, schools, and police and fire departments.
According to the FTC, Telestar Consulting Inc. and Karl Wesley Angel offered an initial shipment represented either as free or as a low-cost “good deal.” If the consumer agreed to make a purchase, the defendants did not disclose the total cost, quantity, or terms of the sale. The FTC alleged that Telestar, doing business as United Business Supply, and later, as Kleritec, also sent additional shipments of merchandise without obtaining the consumer’s agreement. When consumers challenged the invoices they received or did not pay promptly, the defendants threatened to send them to “collections.” Those consumers who paid, mistakenly believing they had to, often received even more unordered merchandise and bills for payment.
Today, the FTC began mailing 13,181 refund checks averaging $525 each to the victims of the scam. Refund recipients should deposit or cash their checks within 60 days, as indicated on the check. The FTC never requires people to pay money or provide account information to cash a refund check. If recipients have questions about the refunds, they should contact the FTC’s refund administrator, Rust Consulting, Inc., at 1-800-870-7192.
The FTC’s new interactive dashboards for refund data provide a state-by-state breakdown of these refunds. In 2019, FTC actions led to more than $232 million in refunds to consumers across the country.