On February 3, the Federal Trade Commission announced that a federal judge has issued an order to a telemarketing operation to temporarily stop its credit card selling operation, stating that the company allegedly sold phony credit cards and took money from its customers' bank accounts without permission.

Per a Commission vote of 4-0, FTC staff had authorization to file a complaint against those involved with this action. The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. In response to the complaint, the judge issued the temporary stop order until the court can decide the case.

The FTC complaint lists five defendants: Blake Rubin, also doing business as Platinum Trust Card, Express Platinum Card, CR Ventures LLC and Maxim Management Group LLC; Chase Rubin, also doing business under those names and as Oakmont Management Services; Apogee One Enterprises LLC, also doing business as Apogee Enterprises LLC, Platinum Trust Card and Express Platinum Card; Marquee Marketing LLC, also doing business as Express Platinum Card; Jules Shore; and Justin Diaczuk.

The FTC's complaint and pleadings state that the defendants, doing business as Platinum Trust Card and Express Platinum Card, have created false appearances and credit cards in order to take money from consumers. Operating out of Philadelphia, the defendants also have created the impression that they are also located in Nevada and Utah. They target consumers who have applied for online payday loans and call them to offer a purported general-purpose credit card that will help rebuild their credit ratings. The card, which is supposed to have a $9,500 maximum credit limit, can be the consumer's for $99, plus $19 a month. It is also supposed to be accepted at anyplace that accepts Visa, MasterCard or American Express. The defendants also claim they report to the major credit bureaus.

However, the FTC says nothing gets reported to the credit bureaus. Additionally, the cards can only be used at an online store that the defendants run. This store only sells bulk items that the FTC says are off-brand and overpriced, such as a case of 432 shower caps for $430.56 and a case of 144 "play flutes" for $573.12.

The FTC also says in its complaint that when the defendants call their targeted customers, they already have possession of the consumer's personal and bank account information, procured from the online payday loan application. If a consumer refuses the defendants' credit card offer, the defendants use their personal information and withdraw fees from their accounts. Those who try to cancel their credit card accounts find the process to be a hassle and have to try to avoid annoying stall tactics in order to do so.

According to the FTC, in three years the defendants have made at least $4.82 million from this enterprise. The scheme has affected tens of thousands of people, including over 10,000 in a recent two-month period.

The FTC's charges against the defendants include violations of the FTC Act for making false claims and withdrawing money from consumers' bank accounts without consent. The defendants are also charged with violating the FTC's Telemarketing Sales Rule by making false claims, submitting consumers' billing information without having their consent and demanding an upfront fee for getting a credit card.

The FTC's mission is to prevent anticompetitive business practices and to crack down on those that are unfair and deceiving to consumers. By going after schemes like this one, the agency hopes to stop individuals and companies from doing illegal practices and force them to pay refunds to consumers.

This complaint comes just weeks after a U.S. district court froze the assets of Eric C. Synstad and his Phoenix, Arizona-based company Premier Nationwide Corporation because it made false promises with regards to fraudulent debt relief services.

This complaint is part of the FTC's "Who's Calling? Recognize & Report Phone Fraud" campaign that is designed to educate consumers about telemarketing scams, avoiding them, reporting them and registering their phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry. Credit offers are one of the categories of telemarketing schemes the FTC works to prevent.