You have to hand it to the Federal Trade Commission, they have a sense of humor. The FTC, along with 11 other States, has served some medieval justice on companies defrauding people on Student Loans. They called it “Operation Game of Loans”, and the announcement shows their lighter side.
“Winter is coming for debt relief scams that prey on hardworking Americans struggling to pay back their student loans,” said Maureen K. Ohlhausen, FTC Acting Chairman. “The FTC is proud to work with state partners to protect consumers from these scams, help them learn how to spot a scam, and let them know where to go for legitimate help.”
I’ve gotten a call from one of them, and played with them for a while. They asked for my personal information, and they were trying to log into my government Student Loan Servicing account. I don’t have any student loans, but they actually signed me up on the the government web site and was trying to access my loan information. They were trying to use my “personal information” (yes, I faked it) to do the “forgot password” and also have me give them the PIN to the account so they could get in. Isn’t that also a criminal violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act?
You can read more here on FTC’s web site for FTC, State Law Enforcement Partners Announce Nationwide Crackdown on Student Loan Debt Relief Scams
Here’s the names of them, and perhaps you’ve been called by one of them as well. If so, and you need help, you might contact the FTC using the contact information at the bottom of the article:
- A1 DocPrep, Inc. – In an action filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, the FTC charged that Los Angeles-based A1 DocPrep took at least $6 million from consumers through unlawful student loan debt relief and mortgage assistance relief schemes. FTC Complaint, Temporary Restraining Order
- American Student Loan Consolidators (ASLC) – In an action filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, the FTC charged that ASLC, d/b/a ASLC Processing, and BBND Marketing, LLC, d/b/a United Processing Center, United SL Processing, and United Student Loan Processing, and principals Daniel Upbin and Patrick O’Deady bilked student loan borrowers out of at least $11 million by falsely promising loan forgiveness, lowered monthly payments, and reduced interest rates. FTC Complaint, Temporary Restraining Order
- Alliance Document Preparation – In an action filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, the FTC charged that Los Angeles-based Alliance Document Preparation, d/b/a EZ Doc Preps, Grads Aid, and First Document Aid, took more than $20 million from consumers by charging illegal upfront fees of up to $1,000. FTC Complaint, Temporary Restraining Order
- Student Debt Doctor (SDD) – In an action filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, the FTC charged that Fort Lauderdale-based SDD and its owner, Gary Brent White, Jr., collected at least $7 million from consumers struggling to pay student loan debt. FTC Complaint, Temporary Restraining Order
- Student Debt Relief Group (SDRG) – In an action filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, the FTC charged that Los Angeles-based M&T Financial Group and American Counseling Center Corp., d/b/a Student Debt Relief Group, SDRG, StuDebt, Student Loan Relief Counselors, SLRC, and Capital Advocates, and principal Salar Tahour bilked at least $7.3 million from consumers struggling to repay their student loans. FTC Complaint, Preliminary Injuction
- Student Aid Center – The Court found that defendants’ unlawful student loan debt relief enterprise took more than $35 million from student loan borrowers by enticing consumers to sign up for services using misleading and false claims. FTC Complaint, Summary Judgement
- Strategic Student Solutions – The FTC alleged that the defendants took more than $11 million from consumers by falsely promising to reduce or eliminate their student loan debt and offering them non-existent credit repair services. FTC Complaint, Preliminary Injuction
In any case, a total of 7 companies were implicated in this dragnet. And unlike John Snow, hopefully they aren’t going to be coming back to life anytime soon.