A federal district court has ordered a group of Canadians to pay nearly $10 million in consumer redress for a fraudulent credit card advance-fee telemarketing scheme. According to the FTC, Centurion Financial Benefits used outbound telemarketing to contact consumers in the U.S., falsely offering MasterCard and VISA to people who agreed to have their bank accounts debited for an advance fee of $249. The defendants typically claimed that the credit cards would have a $2,000 credit limit, zero percent interest, and no annual fees, and often targeted their offers at consumers with poor credit histories. Consumers who provided their bank account information did not receive a major credit card, but instead were sent an application for either a stored value card or cash card.
A federal district court in Illinois has entered final orders against Centurion Financial Benefits based in Canada for allegedly defrauding U.S. consumers out of more than $9 million through the sale of phony advance-fee credit cards. The three people involved were hit with strong injunctive relief. The FTC charged the group in 2005 with falsely offering major credit cards to people who agreed to have the defendants electronically debit their bank accounts for an advance fee of $249. The defendants typically claimed that the credit cards would have a $2,000 credit limit, zero percent interest, and no annual fees, and often targeted their offers at consumers with poor credit histories. Consumers who provided their bank account information did not receive a major credit card, but instead were sent an application for either a stored value card or cash card that had no line of credit associated with it and could be used only if the consumer first loaded funds onto the card.
The FTC has filed federal lawsuits against Centurion Financial Benefits and Pacific Liberty Benefits, both Canadian firms, for cross-border fraud schemes involving credit cards. In the first complaint against Centurion, the Commission alleges the defendants placed unsolicited outbound telemarketing calls to U.S. consumers, falsely offering them pre-approved MasterCard and Visa credit cards for an advance fee of $249. The second complaint against Pacific Liberty Benefits, alleges the defendants engaged in the same type of fraud, with the company’s telemarketers promising credit cards, as well as an array of “complimentary” gifts, for $319. The FTC alleges that in neither case did consumers actually receive the credit cards or other goods that they were promised and that U.S. consumers lost millions of dollars. The Commission contends the defendants’ conduct violated Section 5 of the FTC Act and the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR), as amended.
American Express has added a new feature to its “IN:NYC” card that offers cardholders and up to three guests immediate access to skip to the front of the line at some of New York’s most popular clubs and lounges. The new “GET:IN for IN:NYC Cardmembers” is the result of a partnership with Clubplanet, an online nightlife resource. Each week, cardholders will have five different lounges/clubs to choose from. Cardholders also have weekly access to one VIP room with one additional guest and are also eligible for free or reduced admission at the participating venues. The “IN:NYC Card” was launched in October and is targeted at younger New Yorkers. The card offers “INSIDE Rewards” points redeemable for certificates at more than 70 New York City establishments or for one-of-a-kind experiential rewards. (CF Library 9/30/04)