FTC Calls SoCal ‘Debt Relief’ Firms Bogus

     WASHINGTON (CN) – Two Southern California companies peddling debt relief and mortgage modification on the Internet falsely claim affiliation with federally sponsored debt relief programs, the FTC claims in Federal Court. The FTC sued Dominant Leads, Mad TJ Holdings, and their chief managers, James Rambadt, Thomas Hayes and James Kane.

     The FTC says the companies’ bogus websites were designed to resemble the federal government’s real debt-assistance sites, in their names and through using government logos.
     The bogus sites, which have .com suffixes instead of .gov suffixes, use deceptive logos, including “a row of three houses with peaked roofs, with a square in the middle of each, above a wavy line,” and “the U.S. Capitol dome in front of a stylized American flag background.”
     It doesn’t stop with the bogus websites, the FTC says, claiming “defendants have maintained a Twitter account in the name of [website omitted] on which they identify their location as Washington, D.C.”
     Dominant Leads is based in Los Angeles, Mad TJ Holdings in Simi Valley. Rambadt and Kane’s addresses in the complaint are the same Simi Valley address as Mad TJ; Hayes’ is the same as Dominant Leads.
     The FTC says the websites do disclose that they are not affiliated with the government, but do so on a separate “Privacy Policy” page, or at the bottom of the page in a “small font size” and “in a color that is difficult to read against the webpage’s background.”
     The FTC seeks disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, refunds and an injunction.

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