Florida Attorney General Pam Bondis office has sued Consumer Collection Advocates Corp. (CCA), and Michael Robert Ettus, principal, for allegedly targeting consumers who were victims of previous frauds or scams.
The company contracted with the victims, guaranteeing that in return for upfront payments and a percentage of any recovery, that they would recoup monies lost as the result of the earlier fraud or scam, but often failing to deliver on that guarantee. Bondi's office also seeks to obtain an injunction to stop the business from operating in violation of Florida laws.
The Federal Trade Commission has filed a parallel lawsuit against CCA in the U.S. Southern District Court of Florida. The Attorney Generals Office, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs and the Better Business Bureau received 115 complaints about the defendants business practices.
"This company allegedly took advantage of consumers who had already been exploited in previous scams, and today we have taken steps to stop this business from unlawfully operating in Florida," said Bondi.
The investigation revealed that the defendants violated:
Floridas Deceptive and Unfair Practices Act by misrepresenting defendants' business status and purported fee recovery services and making false and misleading statements to induce consumers to pay for goods or services; the Federal Trade Commissions Telemarketing Sales Rule by requesting or receiving upfront payment from consumers for services represented to recover or assist in the return of money paid for by the consumer in a previous telemarketing transaction; and The Florida Telemarketing Act by refusing consumers a refund, credit or replacement for services that are not presented or not received as promised.
A temporary injunction against the firm prohibits the defendants from engaging in the following acts and practices: receiving upfront payments from consumers seeking to recover funds lost in telemarketing scams; misrepresenting the nature and the efficacy of defendants fee recovery services; misrepresenting any affiliation with governmental organizations; and violating any provision of FDUPTA, the Telemarketing Sales Rule or the Florida Telemarketing Act.
CCA, a Broward County, Fla.-based company, is a for-profit corporation that advertises, solicits, offers and sells services to victims of financial scams and assists in the return of monies lost in various financial schemes.
CCA is licensed with the Florida Department of Financial Regulation as a consumer collection agency and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs as a commercial telemarketer.