The Whistleblower blog was started in 2008. Look for posts by these contributors: James Eli Shiffer, Jane Friedmann, Brandon Stahl, Eric Roper and Alejandra Matos. | Check out the Whistleblower archive.
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Nations Lending Corporation, a mortgage originator based in Ohio, was fined $500,000 for sending advertisements that claimed they were coming from a government agency and created a false sense of urgency.
The Minnesota Department of Commerce found some advertisements used prominent images of Mount Rushmore, stating “this loan is guaranteed by the federal government." Some used “prominent” references to the ads as a “Federal Relief Advisory” or fonts similar to "a historic government document."
The majority of the fine, $450,000, was stayed so long as Nations Lending Corporation’s advertisements comply with state statutes.
To see the full enforcement order click here. Attached below is a copy of one of the advertisements, sent to Whistleblower by the Department of Commerce.
A California man has been banned from selling work-at-home opportunities after he misled his customers or didn’t give them any information at all, the Federal Trade Commission announced Monday.
Christopher A. Sterling, doing business as sterlingvisa.com, rebatedataprocessor.com and creditcardworker.com is also banned from selling other business opportunities covered by the FTC's Business Opportunity Rule.
Sterling falsely claimed that by paying him at least $50, a customer could make $75,600 per year processing as few as 15 applications daily for rebates or credit cards, according to an FTC complaint.
Whistleblower has been on the trail of Rachel from Cardholder Services for years. Rachel has been the voice behind millions of illegal robocalls made over the years, pitching credit card rate reductions.
Now, the companies and people behind one robocalling scheme that used the voice of "Rachel" from "Cardholder Services" and charged up-front fees for services never provided must surrender their assets and stop scheming, according to an announcement by the Federal Trade Commission Friday.
Several companies and two individuals, all associated with the Florida company A+ Financial Center, made millions of illegal robocalls offering to obtain a reduction in the credit card interest rate consumers were paying.
The companies called phone numbers listed on the Do Not Call Registry and collected upfront fees of between $495 and $1,595 by promising rates as low as zero percent, the FTC said.
"The defendants did little if anything to help consumers lower their credit card interest rates," the FTC said.
The group is banned from robocalling, trying to sell debt relief services and making misrepresentations related to any sales attempts. The defendants may not try to collect money from past victims.
A $9.2 million judgment was entered against A+ Financial Center, LLC, Christopher L. Miano and Dana M. Miano and a handful of other businesses managed by the Mianos. The judgment will be suspended once they turn over all but $25,000 of their assets, including a 2007 Mercedes Benz Cl and two boats worth a total of about $62,000.
The original complaint was filed by the FTC in October in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, the district in which the Mianos resided.
Consumers who filed refund requests following a $40 million settlement of a class-action lawsuit against Skechers USA, Inc. should expect a check in the mail soon, the Federal Trade Commission said Thursday.
The lawsuit alleged that Skechers deceptively advertised its toning shoes, namely Shape-ups, Resistance Runner, Toners and Tone-ups shoes. The shoes sold for about $60 to $100 dollars.
The company made "unfounded claims that its Shape-ups shoes would help people lose weight, and strengthen and tone their buttocks, legs and abdominal muscles," the FTC said.
According to a complaint filed by the FTC in 2012, the company's advertising claims included:
"Get in shape without setting foot in a gym."
"Shape-ups will help you lose weight and improve your circulation, creating a healthier you!"
"... once my Skechers Shape-ups are on snug and comfy, I'm toning my muscles, strengthening my core, burning calories."
The FTC also alleged in the complaint that clinical studies conducted for Skechers, upon which some advertising claims were made, used faulty methods. Two of the studies were conducted by a chiropractor who was married to a senior vice president of marketing at Skechers. One study lasted only six weeks, had only eight participants and included no control group, the complaint said. Another study allegedly included falsified data.
The settlement administrator will begin mailing the 509,175 refund checks on Friday. The checks must be cashed by October 10. The deadline for filing a refund request has passed.
Some contractors accepted downpayments but failed to do any work or return the money. Some did shoddy work and failed to fix it. Others failed to take out permits or received insurance payouts for certain work but provided something different.
Of the 10 contractors, two provided work to a total of three north Minneapolis homeowners whose houses suffered damage when a tornado ripped through the area in 2011. The contractors signed up the residents the same day the tornado hit or a couple days later.
Whistleblower asked the department if it has kept a tally of the number of tornado victims who contacted the state about the work done by contractors they had hired.
The answer: 23.
If you have a complaint about the work a contractor has done for you and want to alert the state, click here or call 651-284-5069
Here's some advice from the department if you find yourself needing a contractor after disaster hits.
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