Ashley Moody: Since 2019, Consumer Protection Division Has Raised Over $ 260 Million For Floridians
State Attorney General Ashley MoodyEfforts to protect Floridians and hold scammers accountable continue this week as Florida acknowledges it National Consumer Protection Week.
Since 2019, Moody’s Consumer Protection Division has secured over $ 260 million in restitution and other relief for Floridians. Efforts to protect consumers evolved rapidly early last year when COVID-19 began to spread and Florida fell into a state of emergency.
“As COVID-19 spread, scams exploiting the pandemic have also spread. Inevitably, as millions of Floridians began working from home to slow the spread of the virus, new programs emerged capitalizing on the fear of the virus and using the government’s response as the basis to create new scams. These schemes relied heavily on technology – using emails, texts and robocalls as tools to reach targets in order to steal consumers’ money and personal information, ”Moody said Monday.
“I am proud of the response from my attorneys and consumer protection investigators who are quickly adapting to this new environment to protect Floridians from fraud and deception. Through their hard work, we’ve raised millions of dollars for consumers and helped prevent countless Floridians from falling victim to emerging scams by issuing alerts to consumers when we learn of new scams. This Consumer Protection Week, we’ll be focusing on some of the great work these dedicated public servants are doing to help build a stronger, safer Florida, ”added Moody.
Florida remains under state of emergency due to pandemic and Moody’s Hotline for price gouging stay active. Through reporting to the hotline and other contacts with the Attorney General’s office, millions of dollars have been recovered and more than 10,000 consumer concerns have been resolved.
Since taking office in 2019, Moody has worked to stop a myriad of scams and deceptive marketing practices. Here are some of the notable cases:
State of Florida v. Experts in client care: Client Care Experts operated a tech support business that allegedly exploited consumer fears about computer viruses, hackers, and other security threats to trick consumers into buying expensive and unnecessary tech support software and services. To date, the attorney general’s office has obtained three final consent judgments imposing permanent injunctions and more than $ 12.5 million in total redress, including $ 10 million in restitution to consumers. The case is still ongoing against the other defendants of the scheme and collection efforts continue.
State of Florida v. Ocwen Financial Corp: Attorney General Moody and the Florida Office of Financial Regulation have filed a joint action against Ocwen to address shortcomings in Ocwen’s residential mortgage service, including the alleged failure to accurately integrate loans into its mortgage system ‘registration, mismanagement of borrower escrow accounts, overloading borrower accounts and sending deceptive communications about borrower accounts. Through a consent judgment issued by the Federal District Court, the Attorney General’s office secured over $ 11 million in total relief, including $ 6.5 million in debt relief for eligible borrowers and more of $ 2 million in restitution.
State of Florida v. PEAKS Trust: PEAKS Trust, a private loan program run by ITT and affiliated with Deutsche Bank entities, provided temporary credit to students that the company knew or should have known it would not be able to repay. When the temporary credit expired, ITT lobbied and coerced students into accepting loans from PEAKS which often carried high interest rates. Attorney General Moody and a coalition of other state attorneys general have taken steps to get about $ 330 million in debt relief, including more than $ 24 million for Floridians.
Guiribitey Cosmetic and Beauty Institute, Inc. d / b / a CG Cosmetic Surgery: Attorney General Moody’s Consumer Protection Division investigated CG cosmetic surgery based on allegations the company engaged in deceptive or disloyal acts to consumers in Florida and elsewhere in connection with the advertising, promotion, marketing and the provision of plastic surgery services. As a result of actions taken by Attorney General Moody’s Consumer Protection Division, CG Cosmetic Surgery reimbursed consumers over $ 274,000.
FTC and State of Florida v. American Veterans Foundation and Paul Monville: The American Veterans Foundation has claimed that donations will help prevent homelessness among veterans. AVF made multiple promises, including that the organization would send military care packages overseas and help veterans get advice. However, the investigation by the Attorney General’s office found that less than three percent of the funds were intended to help homeless veterans and that most of the contributions were intended for fundraising, employee compensation and at other overheads. Following joint action with the Federal Trade Commission, the attorney general’s office obtained a permanent injunction and order requiring AVF and its principal Paul Monville to pay more than $ 119,000 to be redistributed for charitable purposes, including one part was used in the construction of a smart home specially adapted for Jupiter for a veteran injured in the line of duty.