Rachel from Cardholder Services, beware. The feds have dropped the hammer on Heather, one of your partners in crime. Heather was the phony telemarketing robocaller behind a criminal scheme that landed four folks in the federal pokey. Remarkably, their victims can actually get some compensation for the credit card debt relief and car warranty deal that they paid for but never received.
This week, the Federal Trade Commission announced that compensation checks of $30 to $1,300 would be sent to 4,468 people ripped off nationwide by Jason James Eyer, Kara Singleton Adams, James A. Schoenholz and their web of Atlanta-based companies that include Economic Relief Technologies LLC, SafeRide Warranty LLC and VP Marketing LLC.
Their scam went like this: "Heather from card services" or "client services" would make millions of calls, many of them violating federal law because the numbers they called were on the Do Not Call registry. Heather made the usual pitch – she could lower your credit card interest rate if you paid a fee, typically $990 to $1,495. If Heather didn’t save you four grand, then you were promised a full refund. Of course, little if anything was done to lower credit card interest rates, or follow through on the money-back guarantee.
The FTC estimates the scheme started in January 2008 and earned $25 million before it was shut down in late 2009.In this case, the agency managed to seize enough assets to enable compensation for those victims it knows about.
FTC spokesman Mitch Katz says that stopping Heather, Rachel and the like are a priority for the agency. Consumer complaints about robocalls have skyrocketed over the past six years.
“We’re making a dent. The question is, whether we can make that dent bigger,” Katz told me. “Through our enforcement actions, we have stopped companies that are responsible for 2.6 billion calls.”
“We know consumers hate them.”
Those afflicted by Heather can take some comfort in the fate of the principals behind these scams. The Bureau of Prisons indicates Kara Singleton Adams is expected to remain a guest with them until 2026. Jason James Eyer is checked in until 2021, while James Schoenholz got out in May.
In a statement after Adams' sentencing in February, United States Postal Inspector in Charge Keith Morris said, “These aggressive telemarketers were criminals hiding behind a phone, and their key sales pitch was aimed at people who were already having financial problems. Our Postal Inspectors tracked them down, and the detailed evidence we gathered helped to hang up their phones, once and for all.”