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Bogus student loan debt relief operation stopped
The CFPB, the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office, the North Carolina Department of Justice, and the Los Angeles City Attorney have announced the filing of a complaint to halt a student-loan debt-relief operation engaged in allegedly unlawful conduct and consisting of several related companies— Consumer Advocacy Center Inc., which does business as Premier Student Loan Center; True Count Staffing Inc., also known as SL Account Management; and Prime Consulting LLC, which is known as Financial Preparation Services. Defendants also include Albert Kim, Kaine Wen, and Tuong Nguyen, who the complaint alleges substantially assisted the student-loan debt-relief companies. It also alleges that since at least 2015, the debt-relief companies operated as a common enterprise and deceived thousands of federal-student-loan borrowers and charged over $71 million in unlawful advance fees in connection with the marketing and sale of student-loan debt-relief services to consumers.
The Bureau also alleges that the defendants engaged in deceptive practices by misrepresenting: the purpose and application of fees charged by the companies, their ability to obtain loan forgiveness, and their ability to lower consumers’ monthly payments. The Bureau also alleges that the defendants failed to inform consumers that the companies automatically request that consumers’ loans be placed in forbearance so that consumers can better afford the companies’ significant fees and that the companies submit false information to student-loan servicers in loan-adjustment applications in an effort to qualify consumers for lower monthly payments.
The court granted a temporary restraining order and scheduled a hearing for November 4 on the Bureau's request for a preliminary injunction. The complaint seeks an injunction against defendants, as well as damages, redress to consumers, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, and the imposition of civil money penalties. The complaint also names several defendants in order to obtain relief, and seeks disgorgement of those relief defendants’ ill-gotten gains.