The Federal Trade Commission is sending more than $273,500 in refunds to people who lost money to a student loan debt relief scheme that charged them illegal upfront fees and tricked them into believing their student loan payments would be permanently lowered or eliminated.
According to an FTC complaint filed in September 2019, Manhattan Beach Venture deceptively marketed payment relief and loan forgiveness programs to people looking for help with their student loans. MBV charged consumers up to $1,400 in upfront fees and led them to believe it went toward their student loans. MBV then funneled consumers into financing this fee through a high-interest loan with third-party financier Equitable Acceptance Corporation, another defendant in the scheme.
Under the settlement order, the defendants are banned from selling any kind of debt relief products or services, from making unsubstantiated claims about financial products and services, and from making material misrepresentations about any other kind of product or service.