Two men who tricked hundreds of people into signing up for debit cards that the consumers didn’t want will pay more than $800,000 in fines, according to a settlement announced Thursday by the Federal Trade Commission.
The scam targeted people who filled out online applications for payday loans. Buried low on the application page were four tiny buttons. Three of them were marked “No.” But one button, automatically marked “yes,” signed customers up for a debit card linked directly to their savings accounts.
Each card charged its own application fee of up to $54.95 each. The scammers seemed to flaunt the underhandedness of their racket, naming their products the “Secret Cash Card” and the “EverPrivate Card,” according to the FTC complaint.
The scammers also sold customers’ names and bank account numbers to a company, VirtualWorks LLC, without customers’ consent.
The two men involved in the scheme, Matthew Patterson and Mark Benning, pleaded guilty to deceptive business practices. They agreed to pay $800,000 in fines, plus the proceeds from selling a house bought with money earned from the scam. They are also barred from participating in similar businesses in the future.
Image: Pete Jelliffe, via Flickr.com