Student Loan Debt Relief Operators Agree to Settle FTC Charges
Last Year’s Operation Game of Loans, a coordinated FTC and Attorneys General initiative, has reached a settlements with 5 defendants. The deceptive student loan debt relief operators violated the FTC Act and Telemarketing Sales Rules by charging illegal upfront fees and false promises of federal forgiveness programs. Under the settlement orders, the student loan debt relief companies are banned permanently from engaging in any type of debt relief activities and from making misrepresentations related to financial or any other products or services.
The proposed and final orders include a total of over $19 million in monetary judgments, all of which are partially suspended due to the defendants’ inability to pay the full judgment amounts. The defendants’ combined unsuspended payments total over $5 million, which will be made available for consumer redress. The full judgments will become due immediately if the defendants are found to have misrepresented their financial condition.
FTC Student Loan Debt Relief Company Complaints
The FTC alleged in its complaint that the defendants deceptively telemarketed their document preparation service by misrepresenting an affiliation with the Department of Education or consumers’ loan servicers, and that consumers who paid defendants an up-front fee were qualified for or approved to receive permanently reduced monthly payments or their student loans would be forgiven or discharged. The defendants used deceptive advertisements on Facebook and other social media that touted their ability to qualify, establish eligibility for, approve, or enroll consumers in loan forgiveness programs, when, in fact, only the Department of Education can qualify or enroll consumers in such programs.
The settlements are with the following individual defendants and their associated companies:
- Benjamin Naderi and his companies, Alliance Document Preparation, LLC (also doing business as EZ Doc Preps, Grads Aid, and First Document Aid) and SBS Capital Group, LLC (also doing business as Grads United Discharge) [Stipulation] and [Proposed Permanent Injunction and Final Order];
- Shawn Gabbaie and his company, SBB Holdings, LLC (also doing business as EZ Doc Preps, Allied Doc Prep, and Post Grad Services) [Permanent Injunction and Final Order];
- Avinidav Rubeni and his companies, United Legal Center, LLC (also doing business as Post Grad Aid, Alumni Aid Assistance, and United Legal Discharge) and United Legal Center, Inc. [Stipulation];
- Ramiar Reuveni and his company, Grads Doc Prep, LLC (also doing business as Academic Aid Center, Academic Protection, Academy Doc Prep, and Academic Discharge) [Stipulation];
- Farzan Azinkhan [Permanent Injunction and Final Order]; and
- Michael Ratliff [Stipulation].
The Commission obtained default judgments against two more corporate defendants, Elite Doc Prep, LLC (also doing business as Premier Student Aid) [Default Judgment], and Elite Consulting Service, LLC (also doing business as First Grad Aid) [Default Judgment].
This press release first appeared here.