Fraud Charge Shuts Telemarketer

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A federal judge has ordered a Canadian company to shut down after charges the firm used telemarketers to fraudulently collect credit card information from consumers and charge them without consent.

The judge in U.S. District Court in Albany, NY, issued a temporary restraining order freezing the company's assets, the FTC said yesterday. The FTC is seeking a permanent injunction against the company in addition to unspecified payments to reimburse consumers.

Montreal-based Consumer Resource Services called consumers, offering free products and services including low-interest credit cards and access to unclaimed cash, the FTC said.

Though consumers were told their credit card numbers were required but would not be charged, the company used the numbers to establish accounts with online payment services in the consumers' names, the FTC said. These services transfer payments between consumers and online businesses, some of which do not accept credit card payments on their own.

The company then used the accounts to order merchandise featured on their own Web site for charges generally in the amount of $229, the FTC said. Consumers who received the merchandise had not agreed to purchase anything and in many cases did not have access to e-mail or computers themselves.

Many of the consumers never received the packages or the services offered by the telemarketers but were charged anyway, the FTC said. Consumers who did receive packages found they contained a notebook with coupons, literature and a list bearing the contact information of companies that provide free samples, instead of the promised items and services.

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