TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Legal Newsline) - A Pinellas County, Florida-based group of businesses have been stopped by the Florida Attorney General's Office from continuing a nationwide telemarketing scam that defrauded customers out of $8.5 million.
Attorney General Pam Bondi's office, along with the Federal Trade Commission, halted the operation that advertised services to reduce interest rates for credit cards.
“The joint efforts of my office and the FTC have stopped these scammers that stole millions of dollars from consumers through debt relief telemarketing scams, deliberately taking advantage of their trust and their financial struggles,” Bondi said in a statement. “I applaud the partnership of my office and the FTC for its great work in protecting consumers.”
The businesses operated under more than a dozen different names, and the telemarketers would say they were credit services, card member services or an employee of one of the businesses. Telemarketers would claim they had a relationship with the lender, and offered a money back guarantee.
Customers would be billed between $695 and $1,495 for the services, and the telemarketers promised a specific reduced interest rate and savings amount within 90 days, Bondi said.
However, customers reported not receiving any kind of rate reduction or savings, and instead were put in further debt through paying the phony businesses.