The Federal Trade Commission recently won a trial against dummy corporation On Point Global LLC, resulting in $102-million in damages for those individuals who took part unknowingly in a scam that – on the surface – offered government documents.
As the FTC cracks down on inbox con artists, it’s important to stay vigilant against future deceptions.
The digital age replaced long and unpleasant trips to the DMV with online services; something made necessary during the pandemic. A simple task such as renewing a driver’s license can be accomplished by going to DMV.com, or can it?
How Does This Con Work?
“The scammers, sued by the FTC in December 2019, ran hundreds of deceptive websites that promised a quick and easy government service” and “were designed to mimic legitimate government websites,” according to a report published by the FTC.
After paying the processing fee, the user would be sent a PDF of publicly available information. The scammers also targeted people applying for public benefits, including section 8 housing and food stamps.
Those fees added up as On Point Global went undetected between 2017 and 2019.
Are You the Victim of a Scam?
“They charged me a $39.99 processing fee, and they are not government-affiliated,” says one of the victims. “I called the company a couple of times, and they gave me the runaround.” This user report was uploaded to Scam Pulse, an online platform for reporting fraud, scams, and dishonest persons, which functions as a blend of the Better Business Bureau and Yelp.
Another victim claims he was charged over $100 and had to cancel the card he used to make these purchases. “I went online to renew my license plates” and “was redirected to Wisconsincarregistration.org.” This site took personal information, including his mailing address.
Most of the eligible individuals for part of the settlement have been contacted already. Still, if you believe you are entitled to compensation, you have until July 5, 2022, to file a complaint at onpointclaimform.com.
If you paid for services and documents you never received, you would be eligible for a refund. There is also compensation available for those who gave personal information to On Point Global.
Unfortunately, the compensation for the victims who provided personal information will be, at most, $15. Refunds and payments can be expected to go out after July 27, 2022.
A Pattern of Bad Behavior
Some of the defendants may look familiar and could also explain where the settlement money comes from.
Law Street Media reports that “two individuals allegedly involved in an online scam are accused of violating the terms of a 2014 settlement with the Federal Trade Commission over a mobile cramming lawsuit.”
One of those individuals is Burton Katz, and this most recent run-in with the law is not the first time he has tried to defraud the public.
Before his time with On Point Global, Mr. Katz was involved in Acquinity Interactive LLC and Revenue Path E-Consulting Private Limited. Both were sued in a 2013 lawsuit.
This lawsuit alleged Mr. Katz placed unauthorized charges on users’ cell phone bills, totaling $9.99 monthly in a scam that falsely promised premium service, coupon codes, and – strangely enough – trivia questions sent in the mail.
As part of the settlement, Mr. Katz was permanently banned from selling false or misleading products.
It didn’t take him long to switch from cell phones to government documents, and now he and his associates will have to pay the price to the tune of 102 million dollars.
Always Be Vigilant
It is important to stay alert because the next great scam artist is always on the horizon.
As of this week, DMV.com is still an active website that claims to offer driver’s licenses and vehicle registration. A small notice at the top of the site read, “DMV.com is a privately owned website that is not affiliated with any government agencies.”
Curious still that the real DMV would not purchase the domain as a safety precaution. Similarly, a search for WhiteHouse.com reveals not a site highlighting the Executive Branch but an adult-only website. WhiteHouse.gov is the online home of the United States President.
Identity theft and fraud are two major problems impacting everyone in the United States. The FTC received 4.8 million complaints in 2020 – the most recent year they reported – a 45% increase from 2019.
According to a study issued by the Consumer Sentinel Network, “consumers reported losing more than $3.3 billion to fraud.” Nevada, Delaware, Florida, Maryland, and Georgia reported the highest fraud complaints.
Innovations in automation mean our lives are increasingly spent online. But, unfortunately, if we’re online, so are the criminals. With the FTC cracking down on con artists like On Point Global and Burton Katz, help is always around the corner. Still, nothing beats staying alert, vigilant, and aware of just where your personal information is going.
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This post was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.
Featured Image Credit: Pexels.
Justin McDevitt is a playwright and essayist from New York City. His latest play HAUNT ME had its first public reading at Theater for the New City in September. He is a contributor for RUE MORGUE where he lends a queer eye to horror cinema in his column STAB ME GENTLY.