Free Money? It's a Scam, the FTC Says

WASHINGTON (CN) - The American Bill Pay Organization and the American Benefits Foundation, whose bosses and even addresses are unknown, bilk consumers by claiming they administer a nonexistent federal program "that purports to pay as much as $25,000 towards consumers' debts," the Federal Trade Commission claims in court.
     The FTC on Tuesday sued One or More Unknown Parties Doing Business as American Bill Pay Organization and the American Benefits Foundation, in Federal Court.
     The defendants run their scam online, through the websites www.americanbillpay.org and www.benefitsfoundation.org, the FTC says in the lawsuit. They accept money through these sites for alleged debt relief and credit repair services.
     It's a scam, the FTC says in the complaint: "Defendant(s) claim to administer the 'Bill Payment Government Assistance Program' (the 'Program'), a fictitious program that purports to pay as much as $25,000 towards consumers' debts."
     They also claim to be affiliated with federal agencies, such as the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, which was created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the FTC says.
     It adds: "In numerous instances, after consumers enroll in the 'Bill Payment Government Assistance Program' and pay an advance fee, defendant(s) do not pay consumers' bills and do not improve consumers' credit ratings."
     The complaint then lists a dozen so-called benefits for sale, one of which is decorated with an apparent government seal.
     Here's another claim from the defendants' website: "As of February 2013, American Bill Pay has successfully processed 9,815 registrations totaling a completed grant payout of $482,514,119.27."
     They also advertise on YouTube.
     Their advance fee is typically $900 to $1,100, according to the complaint.
     The FTC seeks disgorgement, an injunction and penalties for violations of the FTC Act, the Credit Repair Organizations Act, false advertising and consumer law violations.