Article Courtesy of The Sun
By Marcia Heroux Pounds
July 18, 2015
The Federal Trade Commission has permanently blocked
an operation that regulators say bilked millions of dollars from
Spanish-speaking consumers nationwide by tricking them into paying bogus
The operators agreed to settle FTC complaints alleging that they posed
as court representatives and threatened consumers with lawsuits, arrest
and immigration investigations unless they paid up on the debts.
For immigrants, "that's a scary call to get," said FTC lawyer Janice
Nationwide, there were more than 10,000 victims of the scheme, Kopec
said. The FTC will sell condominium and apartment properties owned by
the operators, which it hopes will raise $700,000 to $800,000 to help
reimburse victims, she said.
The FTC filed a complaint last year in the U.S. District Court of
Southern Florida against Centro Natural Corp., Sunmore LLC and
individuals from the companies: Carolina Orellana, Damian Bondi, Jessica
Anzola, Javier Sumbre and Susana Sumbre. A temporary restraining order
was issued Oct. 20.
Orellana led a telemarketing firm out of Argentina, which worked with
Sunmore and when that closed, opened Centro Natural Corp., Kopec said.
Centro Natural Corp. is registered at 5220 S. University Drive in Davie.
Sunmore operated at 2404 NE 9th St. in Hallandale Beach, the FTC said.
Both entities also did business at 1001 N. Federal Highway in
Hallandale, the complaint says.
The FTC complaint also names Bionore Inc. in Pembroke Pines and West
Park, Jager International Inc. in Aventura, Allianza Inmobiliaria Corp.
in Aventura and Jorge Sumbre, who regulators said profited from the
Defendants couldn't immediately be reached for comment Thursday.
According to the FTC's complaint, the defendants called consumers
repeatedly about supposed debts ranging from $3,000 to $9,000. Many of
those calls were to numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry, the
FTC said. In many cases, callers demanded payments of $300 to $500 to
settle the debts, according to the complaint.
The operation took in more than $2 million from consumers from 2011 to
2014, the complaint said.
The settlement orders judgments totaling nearly $6.8 million, which are
being suspended with the transfer of about $776,000 worth of assets,
including Florida real estate. There's also a $172,000 judgment against
the company Allianza Inmobiliaria.
Federal law dictates how and when a debt collector may contact a
consumer: not before 8 a.m., after 9 p.m., or while at work, if the
collector knows the employer doesn't approve of such calls. Collectors
cannot harass, lie or use unfair practicies when they try to collect a
debt. And they must honor a written request to stop further contact,
according to the FTC.