Photo taken of a resort along the water in Boca Raton, Florida.
A student loan relief company based in Boca Raton, Florida is being accused by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) of violating federal laws regarding telemarketing sales and credit repair services. The FTC halted operations of the "phony" company on May 25. The company in question allegedly stole $30 million from unsuspecting student loan borrowers.
According to the press release from the FTC, the operation was run by Dave Green, the owner of Strategic Student Solutions. The company in question ran under a variety of names in addition to SSS including Strategic Credit Solutions, Strategic Debt Solutions, Strategic Doc Prep Solutions, Student Relief Center, and Credit Relief Center. Another company owned by Green, DG Investment Properties, is also a defendant in the complaint.
In practice, these companies assured borrowers that they would help them shorten loan terms and reduce monthly payments through loan forgiveness or income-driven repayment programs. Borrowers paid up to $1,200 in fees as well as $49.99 in monthly payments for the offered services.
But instead of lowering their debt, the organization took the money and let their clients fall deeper into debt. When borrowers attempted to stop their recurring payments, employees cautioned that they would have a hard time enrolling in a different forgiveness program, prolonging their fraudulent agreement.
While the organization has locations in Las Vegas, Boca Raton and Lake Worth, most of its marketing was done from a call center in Jamaica interestingly enough.
Green is cooperating with the recovery of assets including money held in Jamaican banks and elsewhere. Green admitted he bought 22 houses with the funds from borrowers; those assets are intended for liquidation to repay affected student borrowers.
This recent student loan scheme is on the tail end of a slew of fraud cases targeting student debt throughout the United States. Student borrowers, known for desperation and high levels of debt after graduation, are often the target of scams that promise debt relief, student loan forgiveness, and more.
Organizations other than the FTC have their eyes open. For instance, the Minnesota Better Business Bureau issued a warning back in March of 2016, cautioning student borrowers to avoid debt relief schemes. During the same month, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) brought a company similar to the one featured in this story to federal court over damages and losses to defrauded student borrowers according to the Student Loan Report.
Furthermore, student loan forgiveness and debt relief scams have popped up around the country in various different ways. Just last month in the beginning of May, the Student Loan Report ran a story about a “sugar daddy” scheme that targeted “sugar babies” with student debt; the fraud here involved stolen bank account information and empty promises via phony checks.
Looking back even further, Blac Chyna, a reality TV personality, was criticized for promoting a toll-free, scam phone number that offered “payment relief” to those with student debt. This development followed just two months after Snopes.com, a fact-checker website, uncovered a student “loan cancellation” scam in November of 2016.
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