At the request of the Federal Trade Commission and the Florida Office of the Attorney General, a federal court has temporarily halted an alleged sham credit card interest rate reduction operation that often targeted financially distressed consumers and older adults.
The court’s order temporarily halts the Orlando-based operation, freezes its assets, and appoints a receiver over the businesses. In a joint complaint, the FTC and Florida Attorney General’s Office are seeking to permanently stop the conduct and secure money for consumer refunds.
“If you’re one of the many Americans now dealing with rising debt, steer clear of companies promising to reduce your credit card interest rate after you pay them,” said Andrew Smith, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “The FTC is proud to partner again with the Florida Attorney General to stamp out these bogus offers.”
“Consumers who find themselves living with debt can feel like they are trapped in a downward spiral, struggling to find assistance to meet their financial obligations. It is reprehensible that fraudsters would exploit the trust of individuals searching for financial stability—often leaving them in even greater debt,” Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody said. “These telemarketing scammers hid their identities and reaped millions of dollars at the expense of vulnerable consumers. I am proud to partner with the FTC to stop this fraud, particularly during these unprecedented times of economic strain on so many consumers and legitimate business creditors.”
According to the complaint, the defendants blasted consumers with telemarketing cold calls promising to permanently and substantially reduce their credit card interest rates. After duping consumers into believing they were affiliated with the consumer’s existing credit card companies or well-known credit card networks such as MasterCard or Visa, the defendants allegedly promised to save them thousands of dollars in credit card interest and enable them to pay off their credit card debt three to five times faster. The defendants charged upfront fees of as much as $3,995 for their bogus services, the agencies allege.
Many consumers who paid the defendants’ significant upfront fees reportedly received no permanent debt reduction and were left with more debt and worse credit. Instead of contacting the consumer’s credit card companies to negotiate permanently and substantially lower interest rates, the defendants allegedly applied for new credit cards in their names with temporarily lower “teaser” interest rates. They then executed balance transfers from the consumer’s existing cards to the new cards. These tactics not only failed to provide many consumers the savings they were promised but also often left them saddled with substantial balance transfer fees, on top of the upfront fees they paid.
The defendants allegedly have made millions of dollars through this unlawful scheme since at least March 2014.
In bringing the case, the agencies charged the defendants with violating the FTC Act, the Telemarketing Sales Rule, and the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. The defendants named in the complaint are GDP Network LLC; G & G Success LLC, also doing business as YF Solution LLC, QSC Professionals, and G.C.D. Management LLC; G & N Squared LLC; and Gino De Paz; Grace De Paz, and Shabana Khublal.
The Commission vote authorizing staff to file the complaint was 4-0-1, with Chairman Joe Simons recused. The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Orlando Division. The FTC appreciates the assistance of the Florida Office of the Attorney General, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Secret Service, and Orange County Sheriff’s Office in bringing this case.
NOTE: The Commission files a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the named defendants are violating or are about to violate the law and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. The case will be decided by the court.