The Federal Trade Commission added eight new defendants to a case originally filed last year involving a credit rate reduction scam. The new defendants include a payment processor the FTC says assisted in the fraud.
The FTC filed an amended complaint against the defendants behind the firm Treasure Your Success (TYS), which allegedly made deceptive robocalls with “cardholder services” that promised to lower consumers’ credit card interest rates — in exchange for an up front fee as high as $1,593.93.
According to the complaint, new defendants included Newtek Merchant Solutions, and its former president Derek Depuydt. They allegedly approved TYS for a merchant account without performing customary reviews and despite clear warning signs of fraud. They kept processing credit card transactions for TYS even though it had high charge-back rates and fraud alerts on its credit reports, and was on MasterCard’s fraud monitoring program.
The FTC’s original complaint against TYS was filed in November 2012, as part of a joint law enforcement effort against companies that allegedly made deceptive “cardholder services” robocalls.
The FTC’s amended complaint added several counts against the new defendants:
- making false representations during the sale of credit card interest rate reduction services;
- falsely promising not to charge a fee until the consumers have received the promised savings;
- billing consumers without their authorization;
- violating the Telemarketing Sales Rule by misrepresenting material aspects of debt relief services;
- violating the Do Not Call Rule;
- charging an advance fee for debt relief services;
- making unlawful prerecorded messages; and 8) assisting and facilitating deceptive and abusive telemarketing acts and practices.
Defendants in the case now include:
- WV Universal Management, LLC, also doing business as Treasure Your Success;
- Global Financial Assist, LLC;
- Leading Production, LLC;
- Willy Plancher, individually and as a member of WV Universal Management, LLC, Global Financial Assist, LLC, and Leading Production, LLC;
- Valbona Toska, also known as Val Jones, individually and as a member of WV Universal Management, LLC, Global Financial Assist, LLC, and Leading Production, LLC;
- HES Merchant Services Company, LLC;
- Business First Solutions, Inc.;
- VoiceOnyx Corp.;
- Hal E. Smith, also known as H.E. Smith, Harold E. Smith, and Howell E. Smith, individually and as an officer of HES Merchant Services Company, LLC;
- Jonathon E. Warren, individually and as an officer of Business First Solutions, Inc., and VoiceOnyx Corp.;
- Ramon Sanchez-Ortega, also known as Ramon Sanchez and Ramon Ortega;
- Universal Processing Services of Wisconsin, also doing business as Newtek Merchant Solutions; and
- Derek Depuydt, individually and as an officer of Universal Processing Services of Wisconsin.