Court judgment closes case on Canadian fraudsters

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At the request of the Federal Trade Commission, a federal district court in Illinois has entered an order for permanent injunction, final judgment and final default judgment against Canadian cross-border fraudsters, permanently banning their deceptive telemarketing pitches and requiring them to pay $8.1 million, the total amount gained from their sale of non-existent, advance-fee Visa and MasterCard credit cards to U.S. consumers.

The order was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, eastern division, March 8.

The FTC brought the case in November 2004 as part of a multi-jurisdictional cross-border fraud law enforcement initiative. Two defendants, Mishele Wells and her company Simax Corp., settled the FTC's charges in April 2006.

The action announced yesterday ends the FTC's litigation against the remaining defendants, Paul Price and Elissa R. Price, individually, and corporate entities 120194 Canada Ltd.; Prime One Financial Group Inc.; Marketing Directives Inc.; 1284383 Ontario Inc.; and 1309529 Ontario Inc.

Coordinated closely with U.S. and Canadian law enforcement, including members of the Toronto Strategic Partnership, the FTC's complaint alleged that the three individuals and their companies falsely claimed that consumers who paid a fee ranging from $159 to $236 would be guaranteed a MasterCard or Visa card with a low interest rate, high credit limit and no annual fee.

The FTC charged that, since August 1999, the defendants had operated boiler rooms in Toronto, targeting U.S. consumers with no credit or poor credit histories. After paying for the promised cards, however, consumers did not receive them. Instead, they got packages containing coupons and discounts for travel, recreation, automobile services, medical plans, satellite service and cellular telephones.

The FTC investigated the case with assistance from members of the Toronto Strategic Partnership, which, in addition to the FTC, includes the Toronto Police Service Fraud Squad, Telemarketing Section; the Ontario Provincial Police, Anti-Rackets Section; the Ontario Ministry of Government Services; Canada's Competition Bureau; the Royal Canadian Mounted Police; the U.S Postal Inspection Service; and the United Kingdom's Office of Fair Trading.

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