Debt Relief Scammers Settle with FTC and Florida; Will Submit $35 Million in Assets for Consumer Redress
Three marketers who allegedly sold phony debt relief services, including fake loans, have agreed to be banned from selling debt relief, credit repair and financial products and services, to be banned from telemarketing, and to turn over assets worth approximately $35 million dollars, under settlements with the Federal Trade Commission and the State of Florida.
The settlement orders, if entered by the court, will resolve the agencies’ charges against Jeremy Lee Marcus, Craig Davis Smith and Yisbet Segrea, who allegedly convinced people to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars a month by falsely promising to resolve their debts and improve their credit. Over time, victims found their debts unpaid, their accounts in default, and their credit scores lower – some were sued by their creditors, and some were forced into bankruptcy.
The proposed orders impose a $85,326,648.45 judgment against each of the settling defendants, jointly and severally. The order against Marcus, the scheme’s alleged ringleader, is not suspended and requires him to surrender all of his material assets, including 20 residential properties, a 2015 Range Rover, a 2015 BMW i8, a 5.03 carat diamond ring, Rolex, Audemars Piguet, and Louis Vuitton watches, rare coins, a bottle of 1969 Duncan Taylor single malt scotch whisky, and other personal property and financial interests. These assets are estimated to be worth approximately $34 million.
The judgment against Smith and Segrea will be suspended in part once they have surrendered all of their material assets, including a 2014 Tesla Model S P85, Rolex and Movado watches, and certain bank accounts. These assets are estimated to be worth approximately $1 million.
In addition to the banned activities, the settlements prohibit Marcus, Smith and Segrea from misrepresenting any product, service, plan or program, and from making unsubstantiated claims about any product or service. With regard to Smith and Segrea, the full judgment will become due immediately if they are found to have misrepresented their financial condition.
The FTC’s complaint against Marcus, Smith and Segrea, filed in May 2017, also named 11 corporate defendants and 12 relief defendants that profited from the scheme. In August 2017, the FTC filed an amended complaint adding Viking Management Services LLC, Cockburn & Associate LLC, Omni Management Partners, HP Media Inc., White Light Media LLC and Discount Marketing USA S.A. as corporate defendants, and Jack Marcus, Teresa Duda and James Marcus as relief defendants.
The FTC would like to thank its co-plaintiff, Florida’s Office of the Attorney General, as well as the following agencies for their assistance in this matter: the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Iowa’s Office of the Attorney General, Ohio’s Office of the Attorney General, Minnesota’s Office of the Attorney General, the Better Business Bureau of Southeast Florida, and the Broward County Sheriff’s Office.
The Commission vote approving the proposed stipulated final orders against Marcus, and Smith and Segrea, was 2-0. The proposed orders were filed in the U. S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
NOTE: Stipulated final orders or injunctions have the force of law when approved and signed by the District Court judge.