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January 26, 2015

The CFTC ordered Anthony Lauria and his company, Gold Coast Bullion, Inc. to pay more than $9.6 million to settle charges of engaging in an illegal, off-exchange precious metals scheme and for committing fraud in connection with those illegal transactions.  CFTC

January 21, 2015

New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman joined the SEC and the office of the Massachusetts Attorney General in announcing a settlement with Standard and Poor’s Financial Services LLC regarding false and misleading statements made by S&P in connection with its rating of certain Commercial Mortgage Backed Securities (CMBS). According to the government, from February 2011 to July 2011, S&P loosened the criteria it applied to rate eight CMBS, failed to disclose this fact to investors, and misled market participants into thinking the ratings for their investments were based on more conservative assumptions than was actually the case. Under the settlement, New York will receive $12M in penalties, Massachussetts will receive $7M in penalties, and the SEC will receive $35M in penalties as well as $7M in disgorgement and interest. The SEC also resolved two other matters related to S&P bringing the total government recovery to nearly $80M. NY

January 21, 2015

New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced a settlement with Florida-based Vacation Tours USA, Inc., and its principals Henry J. Armand and Tony J. Armand, over a false advertising scam targeting consumers across New York State. According to the government, the company sent letters to consumers telling them they had won a vacation package, including airfare and lodging, and invited them to attend a seminar at a local hotel but once there were subjected to a sales presentation conducted by a third-party company instead of being given vouchers for free airline tickets and hotel stays. Under the settlement, the company must halt its deceptive, fraudulent, and illegal business practices in New York State, pay restitution to consumers, and pay $22,500 in civil penalties and costs. NY

January 16, 2015

Two payday lending companies, AMG Services, Inc. and MNE Services, Inc., have settled FTC charges that they violated the law by charging consumers undisclosed and inflated fees. Under the proposed settlement the companies will pay $21 million – the largest FTC recovery in a payday lending case – and will waive another $285 million in charges that were assessed but not collected. The FTC noted that “the settlement requires these companies to turn over millions of dollars that they took from financially-distressed consumers, and waive hundreds of millions in other charges.” FTC

January 16, 2015

The CFTC ordered Summit Energy Services, Inc., a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Louisville, Kentucky, to pay a $140,000 civil monetary penalty for acting as an unregistered commodity trading advisor.  CFTC

January 9, 2015

New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced a settlement with Encore Capital Group, Inc., a major debt buyer, for bringing improper debt collection actions against thousands of New York consumers. According the state, Encore sued New York consumers and obtained uncontested default judgments against consumers who failed to respond to the lawsuits, even though the underlying claims were untimely under New York law. Under the settlement, Encore will seek to vacate more than 4,500 improperly obtained judgments totaling nearly $18 million. Encore will also reform its debt collection practices and pay civil penalties and costs in the amount of $675,000. NY

January 6, 2015

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced Massachusetts retail electricity supplier Just Energy Group Inc. agreed to pay $4 million to settle allegations of deceptive marketing and sales that promised savings but charged significantly higher rates, entered consumers into agreements without their consent, and charged costly termination fees. MA

December 24, 2014

MF Global Holdings Ltd. must pay $1.212 billion in restitution (or such amount as necessary to ensure that claims of customers of its subsidiary, MF Global Inc. are paid in full). The CFTC previously filed and settled charges against MFGI for misuse of customer funds and related supervisory failures in violation of the Commodity Exchange Act and CFTC Regulations. CFTC

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