The U.S. Federal Trade Commission along with the U.S. Department of Justice announced Tuesday that it would repay thousands of people who lost money to a student loan debt relief scheme.
The FTC said that as of Tuesday, payments were being sent to 22,562 people duped by Ameritech Financial, Financial Education Benefits Center and American Financial Benefits Center.
In December of 2018, the founder of the companies, Brandon Frere, was caught at San Francisco International Airport while trying to flee the country and was charged with convincing people that the companies were working with the U.S. Department of Education to relieve student loan debt. He collected an estimated $25,000,000 from the debt relief scheme.
The companies charged consumers illegal up-front fees as high as $800, according to the FTC, and convinced customers to sign up for a monthly fee of between $49 and $99 a month that was supposedly going to pay off student loan debt.
It was not, the DOJ said.
Most of the refund checks will be sent by mail. Eligible consumers who didn’t have an address on file will get a PayPal payment instead, the FTC said.
“In these cases, we send an email from the FTC (email@example.com) to payment recipients prior to payment,” the FTC says on its website. “Once payments have been issued, PayPal sends an email telling recipients about their refund.”
According to the FTC, most of the refund cases do not require consumers to file a claim to get the money.
“FTC court orders typically require the defendants to provide a list of customers, along with their contact information, and how much they paid,” according to the FTC. “We use this information to send refunds. If we do not have all the information we need to send refunds, we may request that consumers file a claim. If so, information about how to file a claim will be available at www.ftc.gov/refunds.”
If you think you might be eligible for a refund and have questions, you can call Rust Consulting, Inc. at (833) 579-3126. Rust Consulting is handling the distribution of the refunds. Or, you can go to the FTC website for answers to common questions about refunds.