FTC settlement bans phony debt collection operations

150px-US-FederalTradeCommission-Seal.svgTwo Florida-based debt collection operations that allegedly duped consumers out of millions of dollars were recently banned by the FTC from providing numerous types of financial services used in the schemes.

The FTC alleged the defendants used phone debt collection calls from India and false claims that they would reduce credit card interest rates to lure consumers. Brett Fisher, a repeat offender who with the FTC over a 2009 scam, allegedly masterminded both schemes.

The settlements reached with the FTC impose a $25.3 million judgment against Fisher and require other defendants to surrender available assets to satisfy the judgments.

According to FTC documents, between January 2010 and August 2011, Fisher, along with defendants Andrew Keith Sanders, Pro Credit Group and Sanders Legal Group allegedly set up U.S.-based financial accounts from a call center based in India in order to unfairly collect payday loan debts from consumers who either did not owe them or owed to another party.

The callers allegedly used threats, lies and abusive language to collect debts from consumers who had previously applied for a payday loan and had supplied sensitive personal information that later found its way into the hands of individuals involved with the scam.

After consumers agreed to pay, the defendants allegedly used Sanders Legal Group to process at least $5 million from misled consumers. Though numerous complaints were filed with the local Better Business Bureau, the defendants continued to process consumer payments.

Additionally, the FTC alleges that beginning January 2010, Fisher, Sanders, Dale Robinson, William Balsamo and five companies they controlled, including Pro Credit Group, Sanders Law, Consumer Credit Group, My Success Track and First Financial Asset Services, deceived customers by offering a phony service to negotiate lower interest rates.

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