FTC Goes After Another Alleged Collection Enterprise That Threatened Consumers and Offered Debt Reduction Services

The Federal Trade Commission recently filed suit against Pro Credit Group, Brett Fisher, Sanders Legal Group, Sanders Law, Andre Sanders, My Success Track, Consumer Credit Group, Dale Robinson, William Balsamo and First Financial Asset Services.

According to the FTC court documents, the defendants operated a common enterprise while engaging in deceptive acts and practices. They used an interrelated network of companies that have shared business functions, office locations, phone numbers and advertising.

“Because these defendants have operated as a common enterprise, each of them is jointly and severally liable for the acts and practices.”

The FTC alleges that from approximately January 2010 the defendants worked closely with overseas call center and engaged in a scheme to defraud consumers through the processing of payments for debts that consumers do not actually owe. The companies targeted consumers who had previously applied for or received loans from online payday loan companies.

Calls to consumers often claimed they were law enforcement officers or lawyers or affiliated with law enforcement authorities. Consumers were threatened they would face arrest if they failed to pay immediately.

Once consumers paid, payments were processed under the name Sanders Legal Group. Sanders Legal also mailed receipts to consumers reflecting their payments.

The U.S. Secret Service contacted the defendants in August, 2010 and began an investigation into the alleged criminal activities. Even knowing the investigation was underway the defendants continued on with their scheme.

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Interest Rate Reduction Activities

Defendants Pro Credit Group, Brett Fisher, Sanders Law, My Success Track, Andre Sanders, Consumer Credit Group, First Financial Asset Services, and William Balsamo also allegedly “engaged in a scheme to defraud consumers by selling them a service that purports to lower the interest rates on consumers’ debts.”

The interest rate reduction defendants called consumers and told them they would “negotiate directly with consumers’ creditors to reduce consumers’ interest rates.” Consumers were told interest rates could be lowered into the “single digits.”

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Consumers were also told that if the enrolled in the program they would receive assistance from personal finance consultants. People were told they would be eligible for a full refund and were charged between $695 to $995 for this service.

The budget and financial advice consumers received after completing the companies forms told them to pay more than the minimum monthly payments to pay off debt quicker.

The FTC states that consumers’ who enrolled in this program say their creditors were never contacted and no negotiations ever took place.

Customers that asked for refunds were told to wait a few months to see the results. “In many instances, consumers only receive refunds after making repeated requests to the defendants or after complaining to, or threatening to complaint to, the Better Business Bureau or law enforcement authorities.” Of those that receive refunds, many only received half or less of their initial payment. – Source

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