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ORANGE COUNTY BRIEFLY

Credit Firm Barred From Trade

February 14, 1996

SANTA ANA — A federal judge has temporarily closed Universal Credit Corp. after the Federal Trade Commission alleged the firm ran a deceptive scheme.

In its lawsuit, the FTC alleged the company's operators, Mark Thomas Ellis and Gabrielle Ellis of Laguna Hills, falsely told consumers the company could remove negative information from their credit files, even if the information was accurate.

The FTC complaint also alleged the firm made unauthorized withdrawals from consumers' checking accounts.

Harold Stokes, an Irvine attorney representing the company, said the owners deny the FTC's accusations. Stokes said Universal Credit "has done a tremendous job in servicing their clients and handling complaints."

A hearing is scheduled Friday in federal court on an FTC request for a preliminary injunction to keep the business closed.

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