The past week witnessed a big win to the FTC—its lawsuit against RCG Advances, LLC and its owner Robert Giardina has resulted in a permanent ban and return of more than $2.7 million to consumers. In the meantime, the Commission is sending checks totaling more than $164,000 to consumers who were harmed by a bogus mortgage relief scam. Lastly, the FTC initiated a new action against California-based Gravity Defyer Medical Technology Corporation and its owner Alexander Elnekaveh for allegedly deceptive pain-relief claims for Gravity Defyer footwear. These stories and more after the jump.
The FTC, in partnership with the DOJ, filed a complaint against a Voice over Internet Protocol service provider for the transmission of millions of allegedly illegal prerecorded telemarketing robocalls. The company and its owner are now facing injunctive and monetary penalties. The Commission also announced its intentions to update the Telemarketing Sales Rule with a notice and advance notice of proposed rulemaking. More on these stories after the jump. …
Continue Reading FTC Updates (April 25-April 29, 2022)
This week, the FTC announced that it reached settlements with a state real estate board and an international online business coaching organization. It also announced that millions of dollars in refunds would be made available following a win at trial against a private website attempting to assist consumers with government services. The conduct ranges from allegedly anticompetitive behaviors in violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act as well as false and deceptive marketing and advertising practices. These stories and more after the jump. …
Continue Reading FTC Updates (April 1-8, 2022)
The FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection issued a number of press releases regarding advertising and marketing practices in the fashion, finance, and the dietary supplement industries. The agency finalized a settlement over false and suppressed endorsement reviews. It also obtained injunctions over allegations ranging from false claims of removing negative information from credit reports to false health claims related to dissolvable film strips. The Commission also proactively issued warning letters to companies allegedly selling and advertising COVID-19 treatments.
Continue Reading FTC Updates (March 21-25, 2022)
The FTC had a busy week in the consumer protection realm. The agency settled with several companies over allegations ranging from shoddy data security to a full-on credit card laundering scam. Chair Khan and DOJ Assistant AG Kanter have remained busy in their efforts to gather information on merger guidelines, and, in case there wasn’t enough on the FTC’s plate, a U.S. Senator has asked the agency to dig up evidence of wrongdoing in the gas and oil markets. More on all of this after the jump.
Continue Reading FTC Updates (March 14-18, 2022)
Tuesday, March 8, 2022
Bureau of Consumer Protection: Deceptive/Misleading Conduct on Online Stock Trading Site
- The FTC is requiring RagingBull.com, an online stock trading site, to pay $2.425 million and to implement tactics that end the alleged deceptive acts, require affirmative approval from consumers signing up for a subscription, and provide consumers with a simple method of cancelation. According to FTC allegations, the online stock trading site used bogus earnings claims to trick consumers into signing up for services and then trapped them in hard to cancel subscription plans. More specifically, RagingBull.com allegedly made claims that consumers who followed the advice and trade recommendations of its “gurus” could “double or triple” their trading accounts quickly and easily. The FTC complaint further alleges that the defendant included testimonials from purported customers claiming to have made significant amounts of money in short periods of time, e.g., “$6500.00 in 20 minutes.” The complaint noted that Raging Bull’s services, which costs hundreds or thousands of dollars, were set up as recurring subscriptions that are charged quarterly or annually, and that subscribers faced significant hurdles in preventing those recurring charges. The FTC took issue with the allegedly different cancellation requirements that each service had. The proposed order comes on the coat-tail of the FTC’s efforts to crackdown on false earnings claims, returning millions to consumers and requiring click-to-cancel online subscriptions.
Monday, February 28, 2022
Bureau of Consumer Protection: Credit Card Debt Fraud
- The FTC has permanently banned a group of alleged scammers from the debt relief industry and has imposed a monetary judgment of $5.3 million. The ban and judgment stem from a settlement related to a lawsuit in which the Commission and the Florida Office of the Attorney General alleged that the defendants tricked seniors and financially distressed consumers into signing up for a debt relief scheme by “bombarding” them with telemarketing calls. Under the alleged scheme, the defendants falsely claimed that consumers could save thousands of dollars in credit card interest, when in reality the defendants did little more than collect upfront fees from consumers. The Commission voted unanimously to approve the stipulated final order based on the settlement.
Tuesday, February 22, 2022
Bureau of Consumer Protection: Privacy, Security, and Identity Theft
- The Commission has released a new data book aggregating information from 2021 consumer reports about fraud, identity theft, and similar topics in the field of consumer protection. The FTC received over 5.7 million reports in 2021, and the reports reflected a combined loss of over $5.8 billion dollars, a staggering 70% increase over 2020. Of these reports, approximately half pertained to fraud, and one in four fraud reports also reported monetary losses. The most common type of fraud reported was an imposter scam, where a scammer posing as a trusted friend or government agency asks for money. Within the realm of identity theft, which made up 25% of consumer reports, the most common type of theft related to misuse of personal information to apply for government documents or benefits, such as unemployment. The data book also breaks down the most common types of reports within each state and includes appendices listing major data contributors, descriptions of report categories, and a comparison of the various report categories over the past three years. The actual consumer reports are uploaded to the agency’s Consumer Sentinel Network, an online database used by law enforcement to identify suspicious trends and business practices.
Friday, February 18, 2022
Bureau of Competition: Endorsements, Influencers, and Reviews
The FTC is refunding more than $580,000 to consumers across the country who bought indoor TV antennas and signal amplifiers marketed online with allegedly deceptive claims that the products would allow the consumers to cancel their cable service and still receive their preferred channels for free. The March 2021 complaint alleged that Wellco, Inc. and its owner and CEO, George M. Moscone violated the FTC Act by making deceptive performance claims for their antennas and signal amplifiers and using deceptive consumer endorsements and web pages that looked like objective news reports. The products were sold online under the brand names TV Scout, SkyWire, SkyLink, and Tilt TV.
Continue Reading FTC Updates (February 14-18, 2022)
Tuesday, February 8, 2022
Bureau of Consumer Protection: Deceptive and Misleading Conduct with Franchises, Business Opportunities, and Investments
The FTC has filed a complaint against Burgerim, a fast-food chain, alleging that the chain and its owner enticed more than 1,500 consumers to purchase franchises of the chain using false promises while withholding information required by the FTC’s Disclosure Requirements and Prohibitions Concerning Franchising (“Franchise Rule”). The FTC alleges that some of the false promises include recruiting potential franchisees, including veterans, by pitching the franchise opportunity as “a business in a box,” that required little to no business experience. According to the complaint, many consumers paid Burgerim between $50,000 and $70,000 in franchise fees and Burgerim pocketed tens of millions of dollars in such fees, despite the fact that the majority of the people who paid them were never able to open restaurants. …
Continue Reading FTC Updates (February 7-13, 2022)