In January of 2020 the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) went after Chou Team Realty, Monster Loans, MonsterLoans, Lend Tech Loans, Docu Prep Center, DocuPrep Center, Certified Document Center, Document Preparation Services, Certified Doc Prep, Certified Doc Prep Services, Assure Direct Services, Direct Document Solutions, Secure Preparation Services, Docs Done Right, Bilal Abdelfattah, Belal Abdelfattah, Bill Abdel, Robert Hoose, Eduardo Martinez, Ed Martinez, Jawad Nesheiwat, Frank Anthony Sebreros, David Sklar, Thomas Chou, Tom Chou, and Sean Cowell.
The CFPB said “Between 2015 and 2017, a mortgage company known as Monster Loans unlawfully obtained consumer reports from the consumer-reporting agency Experian. Monster Loans provided the reports to other companies that used the reports to market debt-relief services to consumers with student loans. From August 2017 through at least January 2019, a sham entity known as Lend Tech also unlawfully obtained consumer reports from Experian and provided them to other companies, including companies that used the lists to market student-loan debt-relief services.”
The CFPB added, “Additionally, several of these companies unlawfully charged and collected their fees before consumers’ applications for loan consolidations, loan repayment plans, and loan forgiveness plans were approved and before consumers made payments under the altered terms of their student loans.”
On April 27th, 2021 the Judge issued an order on the request for a Default Judgment against some of the named Defendants.
The FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act) prohibits using prescreened lists to market debt relief services.
In the published court document the Judge said, “It is unlawful for a seller or telemarketer to misrepresent any material aspect of a debt-relief service. Yet SLDRC (Student Loan Debt Relief Companies) made myriad misrepresentations upon which reasonable consumers relied, including that consumers would obtain lower interest rates by consolidating their federal student loans.; that consumer were required to consolidate their loans to be eligible for an interest-rate reduction associated with setting up automatic payments; and that consolidating student loans would improve consumers’ credit scores.”
The Bureau seeks a default judgment against the SLDRC in order to return to consumers $19,699,870 in fees wrongfully collected.
The Court found the following judgments appropriate given the facts in this case:
- Docu Prep Center, Inc. and Document Preparation Services, LP – $8,739,347
- Certified Doc Prep, Inc. and Certified Doc Prep Services, LP – $3,806,626
- Assure Direct Services, Inc. and Assure Direct Services, LP – $3,404,455
- Direct Document Solutions, Inc. and Direct Document Solutions, LP – $1,902,259
- Secure Preperations Services, Inc. and Secure Preparation Services, LP – $1,847,182
- Bill Abdel – $3,262,244
The Student Loan Debt Relief Companies and Abdel are “permanently barred from offering or providing debt-relief services, using or obtaining prescreened consumer reports, using or obtaining consumer reports for any business purpose, and using or disclosing any of the information about consumers that he and the SLDRC obtained through their illegal conduct.
You can read the full judgment here.