FTC Action Puts an End to Fraudulent Debt Collection Scheme that Targeted Spanish-Speaking Consumers
Scammers Are Banned from Debt Collection and Telemarketing
The operators of a fraudulent debt collection scheme have agreed to be banned from the debt collection business and telemarketing, to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they bilked millions of dollars from Spanish-speaking consumers throughout the country by demanding that they pay bogus debts.
The settlements stem from an FTC complaint filed last year against defendants Centro Natural Corp., Sumore LLC, Carolina Orellana, Damian Biondi, Jessica Anzola, Javier Sumbre, and Susana Sumbre, alleging that they threatened consumers with lawsuits, arrest and immigration status investigations if they failed to make payments on phony debts. The complaint also names Bionore Inc., Jager International Inc., Allianza Inmobiliaria Corp. and Jorge Sumbre as relief defendants who profited from the scheme.
Under the settlement orders, Sumore and the individual defendants are banned from debt collection activities and telemarketing, and they are permanently prohibited from making the misrepresentations alleged in the complaint, and material misrepresentations about any product or service. These defendants and the relief defendants are also barred from selling or otherwise benefitting from customers’ personal information.
The settlement orders impose judgments on the defendants totaling nearly $6.8 million, which are suspended upon the transfer of approximately $776,000 worth of assets, including Florida real estate. In each case, the full judgment will become due immediately if the defendant is found to have misrepresented his or her financial condition. The order against relief defendant Allianza Inmobiliaria imposes a $172,000 judgment against the company.
The Commission vote authorizing the staff to file the proposed stipulated orders for permanent injunction was 5-0. They were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
NOTE: Stipulated final orders have the force of law when approved and signed by the District Court judge.
To learn about consumers’ rights, read Debt Collection.
The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.