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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.

September 19, 2017

The CFPB filed a complaint and proposed consent order against Top Notch Funding, its owner Rory Donadio, and his business associate John “Gene” Cavalli, for lying in loan offerings to consumers who were awaiting payment from settlements in legal cases or from victim-compensation funds. The Bureau seeks $70,000 in civil money penalties and an order preventing Top Notch, Donadio, and Cavalli from offering or providing such products in the future. CFPB

September 18, 2017

The CFPB took action against the National Collegiate Student Loan Trusts and their debt collector, Transworld Systems, Inc., for illegal student loan debt collection lawsuits. The Bureau ordered National Collegiate Student Loan Trusts to pay at least $19.1 million. It also ordered Transworld Systems, Inc. to pay a $2.5 million civil money penalty. CFPB

September 6, 2017

The CFPB ordered Zero Parallel, LLC, an online lead aggregator, pay a $100,000 penalty for steering consumers toward lenders who offered illegal or unlicensed loans that were void in the consumer’s state. The CFPB also ordered Zero Parallel’s owner, Davit Gasparyan, to pay a $250,000 penalty for similar illegal conduct at his prior company, T3Leads, in a separate case. CFPB

August 30, 2017

The CFPB filed a proposed final judgment in a federal lawsuit against Prime Marketing Holdings, LLC for illegal credit repair practices. The proposed order would permanently ban the company from doing business within the credit repair industry and require a $150,000 civil money penalty. CFPB

August 23, 2017

The CFPB ordered American Express to pay at least $1 million for the actions of two of its banking subsidiaries that discriminating against consumers in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and other U.S. CFPB

August 17, 2017

The CFPB filed a complaint and proposed settlement against Aequitas Capital Management, Inc. and related entities, for aiding the Corinthian Colleges’ predatory lending scheme by enabling Corinthian to make high-cost private loans to students that both Aequitas and Corinthian knew students could not afford. Under the CFPB’s proposed settlement, about 41,000 Corinthian students could be eligible for approximately $183.3 million in loan forgiveness and reduction. CFPB

August 2, 2017

The CFPB ordered JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. to pay a $4.6 million penalty and implement necessary policy changes to address its failure to have proper, legally-required processes for reporting accurate consumer checking account behavior to consumer reporting companies. CFPB

July 27, 2017

The CFPB filed two complaints and proposed final judgments in federal court against four California-based credit repair companies and three individuals, Prime Credit, LLC, IMC Capital, LLC, Commercial Credit Consultants, Park View Law, known formerly as Prime Law Experts, Inc., Blake Johnson, Eric Schlegel, and Arthur Barens, for misleading consumers and charging illegal fees. The complaints allege that the companies not only charged illegal advance fees for credit repair services, but also misrepresented their ability to repair consumers’ credit scores. CFPB

July 11, 2017

Four paint companies have agreed to settle FTC charges that they deceptively promoted products as emission-free or containing zero volatile organic compounds, including during and immediately after application. Some promotions also made explicit safety claims regarding babies, children, pregnant women, and other sensitive populations. However, the FTC alleged, the companies had no evidence to support these claims. The four companies, Benjamin Moore & Co., Inc., ICP Construction Inc., YOLO Colorhouse, LLC, and Imperial Paints, LLC, have agreed to orders that would bar them from making unqualified emission-free and VOC-free claims unless, at all times during application and after, both content in and emissions from their paints are actually zero, or emissions are at “trace levels,” as defined in the orders. FTC

July 5, 2017

The FTC mailed 173,000 refund checks totaling more than $49 million to students in compensation for DeVry University’s allegedly misleading ads, which the Commission alleged deceived students about their likelihood of finding jobs in their field of study and the income level they could achieve upon graduation. According to the FTC’s complaint, DeVry deceptively claimed that 90 percent of its graduates actively seeking employment landed jobs in their field within six months of graduation and that graduates had 15 percent higher incomes one year after graduation on average than the graduates of all other colleges or universities. As part of the FTC’s $100 million settlement, the school agreed to pay $49.4 million to the FTC for partial refunds to some students and $50.6 million in debt relief. The debt forgiven included the full balance owed—$30.35 million—on all private unpaid student loans that DeVry issued to undergraduates between September 2008 and September 2015, and $20.25 million in student debts for items such as tuition, books and lab fees. FTC
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