Cooper stops outfit that charged thousands of dollars for "free" grants
Release date: 7/20/2007
Grant Writing Plus of Hickory failed to deliver the free government grants it promised
Raleigh: A Hickory company that claimed it could help consumers get free government grants in exchange for upfront fees has been ordered to stop, Attorney General Roy Cooper announced today.
“This company guaranteed consumers as much as $1 million worth of free government grants to buy a home, a new car, or pay their expenses,” said Cooper. “We’ve put a stop to their bogus claims so that no other consumers will fall into their trap.”
On Friday, Wake County Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens granted Cooper’s request for a temporary restraining order to stop Grant Writing Plus, Inc., Accucredit, Inc. and managers Melissa and Kenjei Yang from misleading consumers with their grant writing and credit repair services. The defendants are temporarily barred from any activity relating to grant writing or credit repair services in North Carolina. They must put all payments from customers into a secure fund until further order of the court. Cooper is also seeking to permanently stop the defendants’ deceptive practices, and is asking the court to order them to pay refunds to consumers and civil penalties to the state.
In a complaint filed this week, Cooper contends that Grant Writing Plus advertised in publications across the country that it could help people get up to $1 million worth of government grants for almost any purpose, including to make mortgage payments, pay real estate taxes, or pay off debts. In exchange for an upfront fee from consumers, the company promised that the grants would be available within two weeks to two months and said the money didn’t have to be paid back.
Cooper’s complaint alleges that Grant Writing Plus has taken thousands of dollars from consumers but has not provided any of them with grants. One Grant Writing Plus sales representative sold grants to 38 people and collected more than $50,000 in fees for the company. One customer paid $4,000 for a grant to begin a small business. The company then asked her to pay an additional $14,000 and she has still never received any grants. When customers asked for their money back, the company refused to pay refunds.
The order issued Friday also applies to Accucredit, Inc., another business managed by the Yangs. The company claimed to provide credit repair services to customers, including promises to improve customers’ credit records. Cooper says that Accucredit and the Yangs broke the state’s Credit Repair Services Act by charging upfront fees for their services and misrepresenting their ability to remove negative information from consumers’ credit files.
“Beware of claims that promise free or easy money in exchange for an upfront fee,” said Cooper. “Always check out the company with my Consumer Protection Division before you hand over your money.”