Under a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, a telemarketer who allegedly defrauded consumers with false promises of debt relief and charged them without their consent is banned from selling debt relief services, telemarketing, and making robocalls.
The settlement resolves a complaint the FTC filed last year against Jeremy R. Nelson and four companies he controlled. The agency alleged that they violated federal law by making false claims, causing unauthorized debits from consumers’ bank accounts, and illegally charging advance fees.
The FTC also alleged that the defendants called phone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry, called consumers who had told them not to call, failed to transmit caller identification to consumers’ caller ID service, delivered pre-recorded messages without prior written consent, repeatedly called consumers to annoy them, and delivered pre-recorded messages that failed to identify the seller, the call’s purpose, and the product or service.
In addition to the ban on debt relief sales, telemarketing, and robocalls, the proposed settlement order permanently prohibits the defendants from misrepresenting material facts about any products and services, making unsubstantiated claims, charging consumers’ accounts without their express informed consent, collecting money from customers who agreed to purchase debt relief products or services from the defendants, selling or otherwise benefitting from consumers’ personal information, and failing to properly dispose of customer information.
The order imposes a judgment of more than $4.6 million against the defendants. The judgment against Nelson will be suspended, based on his inability to pay, after he surrenders to the FTC bank accounts and investment assets frozen by the court. The full judgment will become due immediately if he is found to have misrepresented his financial condition.
For information on dealing with debt, read the FTC’s Coping With Debt.
The Commission vote authorizing the staff to file the proposed consent order was 4-0. The consent order was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
NOTE: Consent orders have the force of law when approved and signed by the District Court judge.
The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.