LITTLE ROCK – One of five Florida-based telemarketing companies accused by Attorney General Dustin McDaniel of violating state and federal law has been ordered to stop its illegal practices and pay more than $168,000 in penalties and restitution, McDaniel announced Tuesday.
U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright on Monday ordered Financial Management Partners Inc. and its owner, Eric Pugh, to pay $78,000 in penalties and $90,277.50 in restitution to consumers for violations of the federal Telemarketing and Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act, the Telemarketing Sales Rule, the Arkansas Consumer Telephone Privacy Act, the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act and the Arkansas Advance Fee Loan Brokerage Act.
McDaniel filed suit against Financial Management Partners and others in 2012, accusing the companies of engaging in illegal, automated and prerecorded calls, known as “robocalls,” to hundreds of Arkansas consumers. The companies touted their ability to help consumers reduce their credit-card interest rates in those calls. Despite being paid for the services, the companies did little or nothing to help Arkansas consumers.
“Financial Management Partners and at least four other companies inundated Arkansans with annoying, illegal telemarketing calls, and they even disguised their phone numbers to avoid detection,” McDaniel said. “Worse, when consumers did agree to pay for the services that were advertised, the companies took their money and failed to deliver on promises to lower credit-card interest rates. Fortunately, these companies will not be engaging in those types of illegal practices in Arkansas again.”
Financial Management Partners was accused of transferring existing consumer credit-card debt to new cards. Interest rates on the new cards were only temporarily lower. After a short time period, the interest rates returned to the same level or even higher levels than the rates on the old card.
With the judge’s order, four of the lawsuits have been successfully resolved on behalf of Arkansas consumers. Last year, Consumer Global Services LLC, Financial Ladder Inc., and Associated Accounting Specialists Inc. were all found in violation of state and federal laws and ordered to pay penalties and restitution. A lawsuit against one other company is still pending.