A federal district court judge has entered eight orders against a web of Orlando-based individuals and companies that bombarded consumers with illegal robocalls for worthless credit card interest rate reduction programs.
According to a press release, the orders were at the request of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Florida Office of the Attorney General and permanently ban most of the defendants from robocalling, telemarketing and providing debt relief services, as well as providing imposed financial judgments.
The defendants, doing business as Payless Solutions, illegally called thousands of consumers nationwide from 2011 until mid-2015. They convinced consumers, including many seniors, that a credit card interest rate reduction program would save consumers at least $2,500 and would enable them to pay off their debts more quickly. Customers were then charged between $300 and $4,999 up-front but were provided nothing in return.
In some cases, the defendants used consumers’ personal information to apply for new credit cards, presumably with low introductory interest rates, without their knowledge or consent.
The complaint also charged the defendants with making calls to consumers whose phone numbers are on the FTC’s National Do Not Call Registry, along with several other violations of the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule and Florida’s Telemarketing and Consumer Fraud and Abuse Act.
The court orders settle the charges against all 18 defendants, stopping their allegedly illegal conduct and, in some cases, imposing financial penalties. Each order, with one exception, permanently bans the defendants from robocalling, telemarketing and providing debt relief services.
All of the stipulated orders also contain monetary judgments that are either entirely or partially suspended based on the defendants’ inability to pay. If they are later found to have misrepresented their financial condition, the entire amount of the respective judgment will become due. The judgments entered against the 12 defendants that were alleged to be primarily responsible for this scam are in the amount of $4,890,797, the full amount of consumer harm they caused.
The stipulated orders against three other defendants are for lesser amounts, reflecting the consumer injury caused by their more limited conduct.