The FTC continued its focus on consumer protection matters this week, announcing both finalized orders and consumer refunds in enforcement actions ranging from student debt relief to telemarketing. This, and more, after the jump.

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Bureau of Consumer Protection: Debt Relief

  • The Commission issued proposed stipulated orders in its actions against alleged student loan debt relief scammers Express Enrollment LLC and Intercontinental Solutions LLC. We first reported on these actions in a post from August 2023. Under the proposed stipulated orders, the defendant entities and their officers will be banned from the debt relief industry and will be prohibited from making any misrepresentations about financial products and services or otherwise from using false statements to collect financial information from consumers. Additionally, the proposed orders impose a monetary fine of $7.4 million, which has been largely suspended due to an inability to pay. Nevertheless, the defendants will be required to turn over personal and business assets, and if any of the defendants are found to have materially misrepresented their finances, the full amount of the monetary judgment may become immediately due. The FTC voted 3-0 to approve the proposed orders.

Bureau of Competition: Prescription Drugs

  • The FTC has issued a comment responding to the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) request for information regarding its Draft Interagency Guidance Framework for Considering the Exercise of March-In Rights under the Bayh-Dole Act. In its comment, the FTC supports the NIST’s effort to reactivate march-in rights as a check on companies allegedly charging consumers inflated prices for drugs developed with taxpayer-funded research. Moreover, the Commission noted how a lack of competition in pharmaceutical markets can lead to lifesaving treatments being unaffordable for Americans—citing how nearly three in ten consumers reported rationing or skipping their medications due to cost. The Commission voted 3-0 to approve filing of the comment.

Thursday, February 8, 2024

Bureau of Consumer Protection: Credit and Finance

  • The FTC has announced that it will be sending over $610,000 in refunds to consumers who lost money in a tech support scam facilitated by the Nexway network of payment processing companies. We first reported on the Commission’s litigation against Nexway in a post from April 2023. Since that post, the defendants agreed to a settlement with the FTC which prohibits the defendant from any further payment laundering, requires them to closely monitor other high-risk clients for illegal activity, and obligates them to turn over assets to the FTC. These assets are now being used to send payments to nearly 6,500 consumers who were victims of the scam. The Commission advised that most consumers will receive a check in the mail, which should be cashed within 90 days as indicated on the check. Other consumers will receive a Paypal payment, which should be redeemed within 30 days. The FTC explained that any consumers with questions regarding the refund should contact the refund administrator, JND Legal Administration.

Friday, February 9, 2024

Bureau of Consumer Protection: Telemarketing

  • The Commission announced that it has obtained a $195 million judgment against Simple Health Plans LLC and its CEO Steven Dorfman over charges that they misled consumers into singing up for fake health care plans that did not deliver the coverage or benefits promised. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida granted the FTC’s motion for summary judgment and banned Simple Health, five related entities, and Dorfman from telemarketing, marketing, promoting, selling, or offering any healthcare products. Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, explained how the Commission was “pleased the court recognized this blatant bait and switch and ordered the company and its CEO to turn over the money they bilked from consumers.” The court also ordered that all of the defendants’ assets, which had been frozen since November 2018, be liquated and turned over to the FTC to provide refunds to consumers.