In a significant development, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the US Department of Justice (DOJ) have jointly revealed their plans to provide restitution to thousands of individuals who fell prey to a fraudulent student loan debt relief scheme.
The scheme, orchestrated by entities including Ameritech Financial, Financial Education Benefits Center, and American Financial Benefits Center, duped over 22,500 individuals by capitalizing on false promises of alleviating their student loan debt burden.
With a commitment to rectify the financial harm inflicted on victims, the FTC and the DOJ have taken a collective stand to reimburse the 22,562 individuals who were deceived by the fraudulent scheme.
The restitution process comes after the scheme’s founder, Brandon Frere, was apprehended at San Francisco International Airport in December 2018 while attempting to flee the country. Frere was charged with falsely claiming his companies were in collaboration with the US Department of Education to offer debt relief solutions.
Unraveling a Deceptive Scheme
The heart of the scheme rested on manipulating victims into believing that their student loan debts would be relieved through the companies’ services. The FTC’s investigation revealed that consumers were unlawfully charged upfront fees that could go as high as $800.
Additionally, victims were enticed into subscribing to monthly fees ranging from $49 to $99, falsely touted as payments aimed at eliminating their student loan debt. The restitution process has commenced, with most refund checks expected to be dispatched through traditional mail. In cases where eligible consumers lacked a recorded address, a PayPal payment will be issued instead.
The FTC emphasizes that the refund distribution is executed with careful communication to recipients, ensuring transparency in the process. Notably, most cases involving refunds do not necessitate consumers to file individual claims to access their restitution.
The FTC’s established protocol entails obtaining a list of customers, their contact information, and payment details from the defendants, facilitating a streamlined refund distribution process. Individuals who believe they are eligible for a refund and require further guidance can reach out to Rust Consulting, Inc.
The company is responsible for overseeing the distribution of refunds and can be contacted at (833) 579-3126. Furthermore, the FTC website offers comprehensive answers to frequently asked questions, assisting victims in navigating the intricacies of the refund process.
The announcement by the FTC and the DOJ to compensate victims of the student loan debt relief scheme underscores the commitment of federal agencies to protect consumers from fraudulent practices.
The collective effort to redress financial harm is a pivotal step in reaffirming the trust between consumers and legitimate service providers. As the refund process unfolds, affected individuals can find solace in the knowledge that regulatory authorities are resolute in their pursuit of justice and financial restitution.