Company to stop helping bogus telemarketers, announces AG Cooper
Release date: 11/2/2005
Raleigh: A company that processed debits from consumers’ bank accounts for fraudulent telemarketers has agreed to stop working with questionable companies and pay refunds, Attorney General Roy Cooper said today.
Cooper and the attorneys general of Florida, Illinois, Ohio and Vermont announced today that AmeriNet of Lake Oswego, Oregon and its president, David Kerlin, will provide full refunds upon request to consumers whose bank accounts were debited by the company in connection with telemarketing and will stop doing business with fraudulent telemarketers.
“We’ve struck another blow against slick telemarketers pitching phony products,” said Cooper. “No longer will fraudulent telemarketers be able to use this company to scam people out of their money.”
According to Cooper’s complaint against the company, AmeriNet debited consumers’ bank accounts on behalf of telemarketers pitching advance-fee loans and credit cards, credit repair, government grants and other bogus products. As many as 80 percent of people who had their accounts debited sought to have the money credited back to their bank accounts—a sign that many of these debits were not authorized by customers. Despite the high return rate, AmeriNet continued to provide services to the telemarketers.
The complaint also alleges that AmeriNet processed unsigned checks without prior written authorization from consumers and processed electronic debits based on first-time cold telemarketing calls.
Approximately 400 consumers complained to Cooper’s office about losing a total of $100,000 to telemarketers doing business with AmeriNet. Telemarketers using AmeriNet made calls into North Carolina using some of the following company names: AIG, Ltd., Coast to Coast Travel, Commonwealth Marketing Group, Consumer Grants, Continental Services, Corporate Development Network (CDN), First Financial Services, First Link Benefits, Fresh Start Credit Card, Fundamental Consumer Services, Global Benefits, Government Grant Information Guide, Phoenix Consumer Services, Platinum Benefits Group, Raven Marketing, World Benefits and Your Choice.
Eligible consumers who wish to claim a refund can call AmeriNet at 1-800-805-0656 or write to them at AmeriNet, Attn: Customer Service, 16807 Suite B, U.S. Highway 19 North, Clearwater, Florida 33764. Any North Carolina consumer who contacts AmeriNet but has difficulty claiming or receiving a refund from the company should contact the Attorney General’s Office at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM.
Under terms of a consent judgment approved by Wake County Superior Court Judge Howard Manning that resolves Cooper’s lawsuit, AmeriNet and its president have agreed to:
Stop processing bank debits for companies that sell high-risk goods or services, such as advance-fee loans/credit cards and government grants.
Stop processing demand drafts without the consumer’s prior written consent.
Monitor how many consumers seek to have money that was debited returned to their bank account, and investigate any company with a high rate of return.
Carefully prescreen companies before agreeing to draft money for them from consumers’ accounts.
Scrutinize client companies that use middlemen, post office boxes or similar addresses, and those that operate or transmit money out of the country, since these can be signs of fraudulent activity.
Provide a full refund upon request to any consumer whose bank account has been debited by AmeriNet on behalf of a telemarketer or a seller over the Internet
Pay $10,000 to each of the five states involved in the case, including North Carolina.