The Federal Trade Commission has announced that it has put a stop to the telemarketing operation of defendants that allegedly took millions of dollars from consumers – including elderly and disabled persons – seeking help with paying debts and personal expenses, such as credit card debts, medical bills and home repairs.
According to the Commission, the defendants falsely told consumers they could get $10,000 or more in government or private grant money by using their service. They allegedly charged up-front fees ranging from $295 to $4,995, and informed consumers that, for an additional fee, they could either obtain more grant money or receive the money faster.
Also according to the FTC, most consumers received nothing from the defendants and wound up deeper in debt. The defendants purportedly 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 defendants are Hite Media Group, LLC, also doing business as Premium Grants and PremiumGrants.com; Premium Business Solutions LLC and Premium Domain Services LLC, both also d/b/a Premium Services, Premium Grants and PremiumGrants.com; 2 Unique LLC, also d/b/a Premium Services, Unique Grants.com, and Grant Support; Amazing App LLC; Michael Ford Hilliard; Michael De Rosa; Shawn Stumbo; Tiffany Hoffman; and Jeremy Silvers. They are charged with violating the FTC Act and the Telemarketing Sales Rule.
Richard B. Newman is an Internet marketing attorney at Hinch Newman LLP.
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