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FTC action halts phony grants operation

At the Federal Trade Commission’s request, a federal court this summer halted a telemarketing scheme that took at least $3 million from consumers, including elderly and disabled persons, who sought help with paying personal expenses, such as credit card debts, medical bills, and home repairs.

The FTC alleges that the defendants falsely told consumers they could get $10,000 or more in government or private grant money by using the defendants’ service.

They charged up-front fees ranging from $295 to $4,995, and routinely told consumers that, for an additional fee, they could either obtain more grant money or receive the money faster, the FTC said in a news release.

According to the FTC, most, if not all, consumers received nothing from the defendants and ended up deeper in debt. The defendants operated under many names, often changing names when they received consumer complaints or cease and desist notices from state attorneys general, or when they lost merchant accounts, which are used to process charges to consumers’ credit and debit card accounts.

The Commission vote authorizing staff to file the complaint was 5-0.

For more information, including a full list of defendants, go to www.ftc.gov

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