Six years after an investigation revealed EDebitPay LLC, Dale P. Cleveland and William R. Wilson and three now-defunct companies debited consumers' bank accounts without consent, checks totaling $3.7 million are finally on their way to the consumers.
The Federal Trade Commission is mailing the checks to 26,176 consumers. In 2011, a federal district court ordered the defendants to pay the sum after finding the defendants were in contempt of court for violating a 2008 court order.
The defendants originally were charged with deceptively offering a bogus $10,000 credit line and a "no cost" prepaid debit card with hidden fees to consumers who were unemployed or had poor credit. The offer actually was a shopping club membership to a Web site where consumers could buy goods. The credit line could only be used to by merchandise from the club.
The settlement order permanently barred the defendants from making future misrepresentations or unauthorized debits. Instead of clearly disclosing what they were actually selling, the defendants buried the truth in fine print, according to the FTC.
"The FTC strives to return as much money as possible to defrauded consumers," said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTCs Bureau of Consumer Protection. "It is particularly gratifying when we can make consumers whole again."
The FTC collected the judgment in full. Many affected consumers will receive more than $100, with the amounts varying based upon loss. Those who receive the checks from the FTCs refund administrator should cash them within 60 days of the mailing date.