Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and the Federal Trade Commission jointly obtained a court order against a debt relief operation that they allege bilked millions of dollars from customers.
According to their complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Florida, Jeremy Lee Marcus, Craig Davis Smith and Yisbet Segrea set up 11 debt relief companies, which all listed their address at 1410 S.W. Third St. in Pompano Beach.
The defendants allegedly persuaded consumers to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars a month by falsely promising to pay, settle or obtain dismissals of consumers’ debts and improve consumers’ credit.
“Despite alleged promises, the victims of this scam ended up with little or nothing to show for their payments and were made worse off financially,” Bondi said in a statement. “I will continue to work with our federal partners to stop scammers targeting and exploiting consumers in search of financial help.”
The defendants promised guaranteed debt consolidation loans with attractive interest rates and significantly lower monthly payments, the complaint alleged. In addition, the complaint said that the defendants falsely claimed nonprofit status to appear more legitimate.
The court order prohibits the three defendants and their companies from misrepresenting their services to clients, claiming to be a nonprofit or claiming a debt relief program will improve consumers’ creditworthiness.
The defendants are all alleged in the complaint to have violated the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, the FTC Act and the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule.