The Federal Trade Commission has settled with five companies charged in a joint law enforcement sweep last year that involved millions of illegal pre-recorded robocalls claiming to be from Rachel and Cardholder Services and pitching credit card interest rate reduction services.
In the five complaints announced last November, the FTC charged the defendants in the A+ Financial Center scheme and their principles with misleading consumers about their services, calling phone numbers on the Do Not Call Registry, illegally collecting upfront fees and making robocalls.
According to the FTC, the A+ Financial Center defendants told consumers that for an upfront fee of between $495 and $1,595, they would lower their credit card interest rate, often promising rates as low as 6% or even 0%. But after collecting the fee, the defendants did little if anything to help consumers lower their credit card interest rates, or obtain the promised long-term savings.
The defendants are banned from making robocalls, pitching unsecured debt relief services, misrepresenting the attributes of any financial product or service and engaging in abusive telemarketing practices such as calling numbers on the Do Not Call Registry. The settlement also prohibits the defendants from misrepresenting the attributes of any goods or services, and from misrepresenting their relationship with any bank, credit card issuer, credit reporting agency, other lender or government entity. It also requires them to have reliable evidence to support any claims they make to consumers.
The proposed order further prohibits the A+ defendants from disclosing or benefiting from their customer lists, and prohibits them from collecting or trying to collect money from any consumer who bought their service.
Finally, it imposes a judgment of $9,238,155, which will be suspended after defendants transfer all of their assets (except $25,000), including a 2007 Mercedes Benz CL, a 1999 boat valued at approximately $17,000 and a 2002 boat worth about $45,000.
The case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida against the following defendants: A+ Financial Center LLC, also doing business as Accelerated Financial Centers LLC; Accelerated Accounting Services LLC; Christopher L. Miano, individually and as the managing member of Accelerated Accounting Services LLC; and Dana M. Miano, individually and as the managing member of A+ Financial Center LLC.