For immediate release Contact: Noelle Talley
ate: June 8, 2006 Phone: 919/716-6413
AG Cooper hangs up on two telemarketing fraud outfits
A scam that pitched phony English lessons and another that promised credit cards and credit repairs have been barred from making calls in NC, ordered to pay refunds for consumers
Raleigh: One telemarketing scam that pitched phony English lessons and auto mechanics training and another that promised credit cards and credit repair but failed to deliver are permanently barred from doing business in North Carolina, Attorney General Roy Cooper announced today.
“We work hard to go after telemarketing scams that hurt North Carolinians, and now we’ve hung up on two more,” said Cooper.
Wake County Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood agreed last week to ban F.G.H. International and its presidents, Franco Morales and Jhonny Rojas, from telemarketing to consumers in North Carolina. The Court also ordered the defendants to pay $250,000 in consumer refunds and $5,000,000 in civil penalties. Rojas and Morales formerly operated FGH out of California, but are now believed to be in Peru.
This summary judgment resolves Cooper’s suit brought against F.G.H. in 2003. The company began marketing a program to teach English to Spanish-speaking North Carolina residents sometime around the fall of 2001. Telemarketers working for F.G.H. told prospective customers that they had been specially selected by the U.S. government to receive subsidized training if they would first pay a quarter of the cost of the course. The telemarketers also offered a program to learn how to be an auto mechanic using a similar pitch.
More than 1,000 consumers in North Carolina responded to the pitch, paying $250 each. These consumers received a video with limited information but no formal training in English or auto repair.
F.G.H. is the fourth telemarketing fraud operation Cooper’s Consumer Protection Division has stopped from targeting North Carolina consumers in the past year and a half. In April, Wake County Superior Court Judge Narley Cashwell agreed with Cooper’s request to permanently shut down telemarketing by Phoenix Consumer Services to North Carolinians. Phoenix of Largo, FL will pay nearly $16,500 for consumer education and refunds to consumers who haven’t previously gotten credits to their accounts through the banking system.
Phoenix promised consumers pre-approved credit cards and credit repair services for a fee of $129.95. Consumers who paid the money got a packet of information about credit and how to apply for credit cards from other financial institutions but no real a credit card or help with their credit.
Cooper is continuing to pursue other fraudulent telemarketers that seek to take advantage of North Carolina consumers. Cooper has also helped secure multi-state agreements with two companies often used by telemarketing scammers, Western Union and AmeriNet, that make it easier for victims of these scams to get their money back.
“Telemarketing scammers will keep coming up with new ways to try to take your hard-earned money. Don’t let them succeed,” said Cooper. “If you have questions or think you’ve been the victim of fraud, contact my office. We’re here to help.”