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FTC sues firm that allegedly reneged on 'free' vacations

May 31, 2011|Stuart Pfeifer

Here is a roundup of alleged cons, frauds and schemes to watch out for.

'Free' vacation

The Federal Trade Commission is suing a company that it said preyed on the Spanish-speaking community. The firm allegedly charged fees for vacation packages that victims supposedly had won in contests but never received.

According to a lawsuit filed in Florida, VGC Corp. of America placed ads on Spanish-language television and radio stations that promised prizes to callers if they could answer a trivia question. Callers who gave the correct answer were told they had won free trips but would have to pay $400 to receive the package.

Once they paid, however, callers did not get their prizes and were told they did not meet certain undisclosed requirements, the lawsuit said.

VGC operated All Dreams Vacations, All Dreams Travel and other companies.

Credit line

Acting at the request of the FTC, a federal judge has ordered the operators of a credit line marketing company to pay $3.7 million for violating a court order that barred them from making unauthorized debits from customers' bank accounts.

In 2008, Dale Paul Cleveland, William Richard Wilson and EDebitPay and three defunct companies paid more than $2.2 million to settle FTC allegations that they made unauthorized debits from customers who had signed up for prepaid debit cards and short-term loans. The court order prohibited them from similar conduct in the future.

In February, a federal judge found that the defendants were marketing a "$10,000 credit line" that appeared to be a general line of credit when it actually was only an opportunity to make purchases from a shopping club. In addition, the judge found that the company had made unauthorized debits from customer accounts, a violation of the 2008 order.

The defendants have appealed.

Package delivery

The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers to be extremely cautious of emails alerting them that they've received a package. The BBB advises consumers not to click on links or attachments until they can confirm that the email is not malicious. Often, email solicitations that contain grammatical mistakes or typos are generated by scam artists hoping to obtain recipients' personal information, the BBB said.

stuart.pfeifer@latimes.com

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