ORANGE COUNTY, CA – Operators of a student debt relief program in Santa Ana will pay at least $ 835,000 to address Federal Trade Commission allegations that they have charged excessive fees and made false promises to customers with crushing student loan debt.
The settlement resolves the FTC’s dispute against five defendants: Carey G. Howe, Anna C. Howe, Shunmin Hsu, Ruddy Palacios and Oliver Pomazi. The agency’s complaint against the Arete financial group and several related companies.
Although the company is based in Santa Ana, no further information on the ages of the defendants was available.
In the 2019 lawsuit filed in federal court in Los Angeles, the FTC alleged that Arete and the other defendants claimed to be affiliated with the US Department of Education and deceptively promised cancellation, consolidation programs. and loan repayments to reduce or eliminate monthly payments and principal. sales.
Litigation continues against other defendants in the case, Jay Singh and the two defendant companies he controls, as well as against seven defaulting defendant companies, the FTC said.
The order prohibits the defendants from providing student loan debt relief services, prohibits them from violating the telemarketing sales rule, and includes a $ 43.3 million monetary judgment, which is partially suspended due to ‘an inability to pay.
Defendants will be required to hand over at least $ 835,000 and additional assets, which will be used for consumer recourse.
According to the FTC, the order also requires the full cooperation of the defendants in the pending case and in any related investigation.