FTC seeks contempt ruling against Suntasia defendants

ID-100128578‘Negative option’ defendants reportedly continued deception with cash advance/loan scheme

After  being ordered to pay over $11 million in 2008 for deceptive practices, a group of defendants allegedly returned to their old ways. The Federal Trade Commission recently announced it is seeking a contempt ruling in federal court against defendants from Florida-based Suntasia Telemarketing.

The FTC charges the defendants of violating the terms of a court-ordered permanent injunction by engaging in some of the same tactics that led to the FTC’s prior charges against them.

In 2007, the FTC took charged the defendants behind Suntasia Marketing, Inc. with deceptively marketing negative option programs to consumers nationwide.  According to the FTC, the defendants charged consumers’ bank accounts without consent, for “negative option” programs such as travel club and buyers club memberships.

In a negative option program, a company takes your silence or failure to cancel as a sign that you accept the offer and give permission to debit from your account.

Under a 2008 settlement, 14 defendants involved in the scheme agreed to pay more than $16 million. Defendants Bryon Wolf and Roy Eliasson were required to pay over $11 million and agree to stop misrepresenting material facts about any offer, failing to disclose material terms of what they sell, debiting accounts without consumers’ consent and other unlawful acts.

According to the FTC, within months of the court’s 2008 order, defendants Bryon Wolf and Roy Eliasson, and their firm Membership Services, LLC devised a new plan to defraud consumers, targeting recent loan applicants with deceptive phone and Internet solicitations. They allegedly misled consumers into believing they would receive cash advances or loans, or general lines of credit.

However, the defendants debited consumers’ accounts for membership in a continuity program. The continuity plans were called “Monster Rewards,” “Mongo,” and “Money on the Go.”

The FTC charged the defendants with violating the permanent injunction by making misrepresentations to consumers, failing to make key disclosures, failing to get express informed consent before debiting accounts, and by failing to disclose details of their programs during telemarketing solicitations. According to the FTC, the defendants made over $9 million through their deceptive practices.