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Other Federal Enforcement Actions

Numerous federal agencies have authority to institute enforcement proceedings against wrongdoers.  These agencies include:

  • The Department of the Treasury and its divisions including the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FINCEN), which is responsible for safeguarding the U.S. financial system from illicit use and money laundering including through enforcement of the Bank Secrecy Act, and the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which enforces economic and trade sanctions. Whistleblowers with knowledge of violations of the Bank Secrecy Act can submit a claim under the Anti-Money Laundering Whistleblower Program.  Violations of other laws enforced by the Department of Treasury may give rise to claims under different whistleblower reward programs.
  • The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which is charged with preventing anticompetitive, deceptive, and unfair business practices. The FTC can bring enforcement actions under U.S. antitrust laws and to stop unfair, deceptive and fraudulent business practices. The FTC does not have any authority to pay financial rewards to whistleblowers; however, conduct that is regulated by the FTC may also give rise to a claim under a different whistleblower reward program.
  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), created by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, which regulates the offering and provision of consumer financial products or services under the federal consumer financial laws, and has the authority to bring enforcement actions against financial service providers. While the CFPB accepts tips from whistleblowers, and applicable laws offer whistleblowers protection from retaliation, there is currently no provision for CFPB whistleblowers to receive financial rewards. However, conduct that is regulated by the CFPB may also give rise to a claim under a different whistleblower reward program.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency, which enforces federal environmental laws and regulations. The EPA does not currently have any authority to pay financial rewards to whistleblowers; however, conduct that is regulated by the EPA may also give rise to a claim under a different whistleblower reward program, and a number of federal environmental laws protect government or private employees reporting environmental violations under the statutes from retaliation.

Below are summaries of recent settlements and successful enforcement actions involving these agencies. If you believe you have information about fraud which could give rise to a claim under a whistleblower reward program, please contact us to speak with one of our experienced whistleblower attorneys.

February 14, 2024

A merchant cash advance operator who was found guilty of deceiving small businesses has been ordered to pay $20.3 million in civil penalties and monetary relief.  Jonathan Braun was convicted of misrepresenting the terms of merchant cash advances his business provided, using unfair collection practices, and threatening consumers with physical violence to get them to pay up.  FTC

February 9, 2024

Simple Health Plans LLC and CEO Steven J. Dorfman have been ordered to pay $195 million for violating the FTC Act and Telemarketing Sales Rule and misleading consumers into believing they were signing up for healthcare plans that covered a wide array of services.  Despite  paying as much as $500 per month for benefits, consumers were essentially uninsured and exposed to limitless medical expenses.  FTC

February 8, 2024

The CFPB has ordered that Consumer First Legal Group, LLC, and attorneys Thomas G. Macey, Jeffrey J. Aleman, Jason Searns, and Harold E. Stafford pay $12 million in consumer redress and penalties for charging millions in advance fees to homeowners seeking foreclosure relief.  The advance fees charged were allegedly for legal representation, but the company and the attorneys failed to provide any.  CFPB

November 28, 2023

Bank of America has been ordered to pay $12 million into the CFPB’s victims relief fund for violating the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, which requires financial institutions to report demographic information about mortgage applicants. For at least four years, hundreds of BoA loan officers falsely reported that applicants failed to answer those questions, when in reality the officers had failed to ask them.  CFPB

November 20, 2023

Toyota Motor Credit Corporation, the U.S.-based auto-financing arm of Toyota Motor Corporation, has been ordered to pay $60 million—including $48 million in consumer redress and $12 million in penalties—for illegal lending and credit reporting misconduct in violation of the Consumer Financial Protection Act and Fair Credit Reporting Act. According to aggrieved consumers, dealers misled them about optional products and services that could be sold bundled with vehicles, either representing that they were mandatory or including them on contracts without their knowledge.  Toyota Motor Credit then stymied attempts to cancel bundled products and services, directing consumers to a dead-end cancellation hotline, delaying or withholding refunds, and providing inaccurate refund information.  CFPB

November 20, 2023

Student lender Prehired has been ordered to shut down permanently, pay more than $4.2 million in restitution, and void nearly $27 million in outstanding loans for allegedly trapping students with unlawful loans and employing abusive debt collection practices.  According to the CFPB and the attorneys general of 10 states, Prehired’s 12-week online training program made false promises about its ability to help students obtain six-figure paying jobs, while keeping them in the dark about key loan information.  CFPBDE AGNC AG

November 15, 2023

Online lender Enova International Inc. has been ordered to pay $15 million and is prohibited from offering certain consumer loans for seven years, after the CFPB found it guilty of violating a 2019 order to cease and desist from widespread illegal conduct, including withdrawing funds from consumer bank accounts without their consent, backtracking on loan extensions, failing to provide crucial information such as due dates, and failing to provide consumer copies of signed authorizations.  In addition to the new penalties, Enova has been ordered to provide redress to consumers harmed and tie executive compensation with the company’s compliance with consumer protection laws.  CFPB

October 18, 2023

For-profit Sollers College, its parent company, Sollers Inc., and its founder and president Siba Padhi have been ordered to cancel $3.4 million in student debt and pay $1.2 million in civil penalties for misrepresenting its job placements rates and relationships with prominent companies in order to lure students to the school.  Since 2018, Sollers claimed that 90% of its graduates were placed in jobs within 3 months of graduation, when in reality the number was as low as 52%.  Sollers also encouraged students into paying tuition with illegal income-sharing agreements, wherein students would pay the school a fixed percentage of their future income for about two years.  Nearly 400 students nationwide were affected by this misconduct, with more than 60 of them being residents of New Jersey.  NJ AG; FTC

October 17, 2023

Fintech company Chime Inc., d/b/a Sendwave, has been ordered to pay $1.5 million in fees and a $1.5 million penalty to the CFPB’s victim relief fund for violations of the CFPB’s Remittance Transfer Rule and the Electronic Fund Transfer Act.  According to the agency, Chime deceived consumers about the speed and cost of remittance transfers on its mobile app, forced consumers to waive their legal rights, failed to provide consumers with required disclosures or timely receipts, and failed to properly track, investigate, and resolve consumer disputes and errors.  CFPB

October 12, 2023

Trans Union LLC and its subsidiary, TransUnion Rental Screening Solutions, Inc. (TURSS), have agreed to pay $15 million to settle charges of violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) by failing to ensure the accuracy of information included in tenant background screening reports, thus hampering the ability of consumers to obtain housing.  Some of the failures included reporting developments in the same eviction proceeding as if they were from more than one eviction, mischaracterizing the nature of certain information, and failing to accurately report eviction outcomes.  CFPB; FTC
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