Attorney General Pam Bondi today announced federal court approval of proposed consent judgments against several Florida-based debt relief service providers. The consent judgments, filed jointly in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida by the Attorney General’s Office and the Federal Trade Commission, resolve allegations that the defendant debt relief companies targeted individuals deeply in debt with promises of lower credit card payments and substantial savings and collected upfront fees for the promised services, but never delivered on those services or provided refunds. As a result, consumers fell even deeper into debt.
“Debt relief scams target people trying to pay their bills and get out of debt and these types of scams impede their efforts—leaving victims, trying to do the right thing, owing more than when they asked for help,” said Attorney General Bondi. “We will continue to do everything in our power to identify and eliminate these scams to better protect Floridians.”
As part of the scam, the defendant debt relief service providers allegedly worked with payment processors to create more than two dozen shell merchants to process credit card payments for the scam operation. The defendants allegedly created these fake businesses to act as fronts and launder the illegal transactions, ultimately taking more than $12 million from consumers.
The defendant debt relief service providers subject to the consent judgments include Steven D. Short and his wife, Karissa L. Dyar, E.M. Systems & Services LLC, Administrative Management & Design LLC, Empirical Data Group Technologies, LLC, Epiphany Management Systems, LLC and KLS Industries, LLC, doing business as Satisfied Service Solutions, LLC. To view the order granting approval of the consent judgments with the debt relief service providers, click here.
The payment processors included in the court’s orders are CardReady LLC and its executives, Brandon A. Becker, James F. Berland and Andrew S. Padnick. To view the orders approving the consent judgment with CardReady and it executives, click here and here.
Additionally, a telemarketing company, One Easy Solution LLC and its principals, Christopher Miles, Jason Gagnon, Matthew Thomas and Kenneth Sallies are permanently banned from all telemarketing activities. To view the orders approving the consent judgment with One Easy and its principals, click here, font-family: Arial; font-size: medium;”> here, font-family: Arial; font-size: medium;”> here and here.
The court orders require a payment of more than $4 million and the relinquishment of property as follows:
- Card Ready, LLC, Brandon A. Becker and James F. Berland must pay $1.8 million;
- Matthew Thomas must pay $10,000 and turn over various pieces of jewelry;
- Steven D. Short and Karissa L. Dyar must turnover money held in numerous bank accounts;
- Andrew Padnick must pay almost $6,000;
- Christopher Miles must pay $6,600 and transfer certain bank accounts;
- Jason Gagnon must transfer a vehicle; and
- Kenneth Sallies must pay more than $2.5 million.
Under the federal consent orders, the debt relief service providers are permanently banned from conducting outbound telemarketing and selling or advertising any debt relief product or service. Additionally, the payment processors are permanently banned from the payment processing industry.