Virus Scam, Nee Virus Scan
An operator of an online "scareware" scheme will pay more
than $8 million in redress to settle FTC charges that he used
fake virus scans to trick computer users into buying worthless
According to the FTC's complaint, the defendant placed ads
offering free virus scans to visitors on popular websites. The
bogus scans inevitably claimed to detect viruses, spyware, or
illegal pornography and urged consumers to buy the defendant's
software to remove it. The FTC alleged that the defendants
conned more than one million people into paying $40-60 each for
products such as Winfixer, Drive Cleaner and Antivirus XP to
"fix" a non-existent problem.
At the request of the FTC, a federal judge has
shut down a
company that allegedly tricked people into sending money --
from $200 to $2500 -- by pretending to be the U.S. Citizenship
and Immigration Services. The FTC complaint alleged that the
defendants set up official-looking websites, paid to make sure
their sites appeared at the top of immigration-related searches
like "USCIS," and answered calls as if they were legitimate
immigration caseworkers. Callers sent money to pay processing
fees for green card renewals, work visas, and applications for
asylum, but according to the FTC, the defendants kept the money,
submitted the applications to the USCIS without payment, or
charged applicants twice.
As part of the FTC's crackdown on deceptive prerecorded
calls, the Dolce Group Worldwide, LLC, has been shut down.
According to the
FTC, the Dolce Group conned people into paying thousands of
dollars for "extended auto warranties" by telling them that
their warranties were about to expire. Only after buying the
"warranties" did consumers learn that the company wasn't
affiliated with any car manufacturer and didn't provide complete
coverage. Fereidoun Khalilian, the owner of the company, is
known to the FTC as a result of a 2001 settlement that involved
the telemarketing of vacation travel packages. The latest court
order bans Khalilian and the Dolce Group from telemarketing or
helping others to telemarket, and includes a judgment of more
than $4.2 million.
Debt Relief Grief
Three companies and their owner have been banned from the
debt relief business.
According to the
FTC, The Hermosa Group and Financial Future Network
deceptively advertised debt relief services in English and
Spanish-language radio and television ads. The ads claimed that
people could pay off their credit card debts for thousands of
dollars less than they owed. But the FTC argued that people
didn't get help: instead, their names and phone numbers were
sold as leads to other companies that paid between $50 and $65
per contact. According to the FTC complaint, the defendants
didn't provide debt settlement services and couldn't back up
their claims that they -- or any other company -- could
substantially reduce or eliminate anyone's debts.
Classic Closeouts Closed Out
The FTC has
reached a settlement with Classic Closeouts LLC and its
principal, Daniel Greenburg, as part of a crackdown on scammers
taking advantage of the economic downturn. The FTC's complaint
against Classic Closeouts alleges they stole millions of dollars
from consumers by charging to -- and debiting from -- their bank
accounts without their authorization. According to the
complaint, the company continued to charge customers for months
and years after they bought low-cost clothing or household goods
from the Classic Closeouts website. Under the settlement,
Greenberg is banned from owning, controlling, or consulting for
any Internet-related business that handles personal credit or
debit card accounts.
The North Carolina Board of Opticians' proposal to restrict
the sale of contact lenses, eyeglasses, and other optical goods
in the state is likely to raise costs to consumers
according to FTC staff. Existing federal and state
regulations already protect the health and safety of contact
lens wearers and others who buy corrective lenses, and require
prescribers to give consumers a copy of their prescription so
they can comparison-shop for contact lens and eyeglasses. FTC
staff suggested that the additional restrictions would increase
costs for out-of-state and Internet vendors -- and raise the
prices North Carolina consumers pay for prescription eyewear.
Net Safety Tips On The Go, a free Android app for keeping up
with online privacy, safety, and security issues.
A Call to Curb Cramming
The FTC will
host a forum in Washington, DC, on May 11 to discuss
creative ways to prevent people from getting crammed -- that is,
hit with unauthorized third-party charges on their phone bills.
Share your idea or opinion by submitting your comment
online by April 27th.
A Blog for Business
Looking for quick, informal compliance guidance on privacy
and security, marketing and advertising, and credit and finance?
You'll find it at the
Blog. From the latest changes to the
Sales Rule to the details of the
Rule, the Business Center Blog covers key compliance news.
IN OTHER NEWS:
ICFE eNEWS is available FREE upon request
by visiting our Web site and filling out the
form, with the words "eNews request" included in the
comments field. Please pass this eNEWS on to your peers and
interested others and invite them to subscribe for free.
Paul S. Richard
President - Executive Director
Institute of Consumer
Financial Education (ICFE)
About the ICFE:
The Institute of Consumer Financial Education (ICFE) was founded in 1982 by the late Loren Dunton (creator of the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation). The ICFE is dedicated to helping consumers of all ages to improve their spending, increase savings and use credit more wisely.
The ICFE is an award winning, nonprofit, consumer education organization that has helped millions of people through its education programs and Resources. It publishes the Do-It-Yourself Credit File correction Guide, which is updated annually. The ICFE has distributed over one million Credit/Debit Card Warning Labels and Credit/Debit Card Sleeves world wide.
The ICFE became an official partner with the Department of Defense/Financial Readiness Campaign in June of 2004.The ICFE was an active partner in the California Student Debt Resource Awareness Project (CASDRAP) which resulted in a new web site: (studentdebthelp.org). CASDRAP disbanded in 2010, shortly after the web site project was completed. In 2011 the ICFE assumed the single sponsorship of the (studentdebthelp.org) web site and is now responsible for its content and operation.
The ICFE is also an on-line help for consumers who spend too much. ICFE's spending help was featured in PARADE Magazine in the Intelligence Report section. The money helps and tips are from the ICFE's Money Instruction Book, our course in personal finance.
Visit the ICFE's other web sites at: www.financial-education-icfe.org and studentdebthelp.org. Both sites helps consumers and students with mending spending, learning about the proper use of credit, budget and expense guidelines, how to set up and implement a spending-plan and also how to access financial education courses and how to teach children about money. Other ICFE services include: Ask Mr. G, a free eNews, and an online resource center for students, parents and educators, plus financial education learning tools and a book store.