Plaintiff, the Federal Trade Commission ("FTC" or "Commission"), has filed a Complaint for Permanent Injunction and Other Equitable Relief pursuant to Section 13(b) of the Federal Trade Commission Act ("FTC Act"), 15 U.S.C. §53(b), to obtain permanent injunctive relief, rescission or reformation of contracts, restitution, the refund of monies paid, the disgorgement of ill-gotten monies, and other equitable relief for Defendants' acts or practices in violation of Section 5(a) of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. § 45(a).
The Complaint alleges that Defendants engaged in unfair or deceptive acts or practices in advertising and marketing debt relief services in violation of Section 5(a) of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. § 45(a).
The parties, by and through their respective counsel, have agreed to entry of this Stipulated Final Judgment and Order ("Order") by this Court without trial or adjudication of any issue of fact or law and without the Defendants admitting liability for any of the matters alleged in the Complaint. Defendants waive any right that may arise under the Equal Access to Justice Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2412, as amended by Pub. L. 104-121, 110 Stat. 847, 863-64 (1996), and any claims they may have against the Commission, its employees, representatives, or agents. Defendants have waived service of the Summons and Complaint.
The parties having requested the Court to enter this Order, it is therefore ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED as follows:
1. This Court has jurisdiction over the subject matter and over the parties.
2. The Complaint states a claim upon which relief may be granted against Defendants under Sections 5(a) and 13(b) of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 45(a), 53(b).
3. Venue is proper in this District under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b) and (c), and 15 U.S.C. § 53(b).
4. The activities of Defendants are in or affecting commerce as "commerce" is defined in Section 4 of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. § 44, as amended.
5. Defendants have read and fully understand the Complaint against them and the provisions of this Order, and they freely enter into this Order.
6. Defendants waive all rights to seek judicial review or otherwise challenge or contest the validity of this Order.
7. This Order is in addition to, and not in lieu of, any other civil or criminal remedies that may be provided by law.
8. Entry of this Order is in the public interest.
For the purpose of this Order, the following definitions shall apply:
A. "Assisting others" includes, but is not limited to:
1. performing customer service functions, including, but not limited to, receiving or responding to consumer complaints;
2. formulating or providing, or arranging for the formulation or provision of, any advertising or marketing material;
3. formulating or providing, or arranging for the formulation or provision of, any marketing support materials or services, which includes but is not limited to web addresses or Internet Protocol addresses for any Internet websites, telemarketing sales scripts, affiliate marketing services, or media placement services;
4. providing names of, or assisting in the generation of, potential customers;
5. performing marketing or billing services of any kind; and
6. acting or serving as an owner, officer, director, manager, or principal of any entity.
B. "Competent and reliable evidence" means tests, analyses, research, studies, or other evidence based on the expertise of professionals in the relevant area, that has been conducted and evaluated in an objective manner by persons qualified to do so, using procedures generally accepted in the profession to yield accurate and reliable results.
C. "Consumer" means any natural person.
D. "Corporate Defendants" means Debt.com Marketing, LLC; Media Choice, LLC also d/b/a MediaChoice, LLC; and 800 Credit Card Debt, LLC also d/b/a 800 Credit Crad [sic] Debt, LLC, 800CreditCardDebt.com, and 800ccd.com; and each of their successors and assigns.
E. "Customer" means any person who has paid, or may be required to pay, for products, services, plans, or programs offered for sale or sold by the Defendants.
F. "Debt relief service" means any product, service, plan, or program represented, expressly or by implication, to renegotiate, settle, or in any way alter the terms of payment or other terms of the debt between a consumer and one or more unsecured creditors or debt collectors, including, but not limited to, a reduction in the balance, interest rate, or fees owed by a consumer to an unsecured creditor or debt collector.
G. "Defendants" means the Individual Defendant and the Corporate Defendants, individually, collectively, or in any combination.
H. "Distribution(s)" means any direct or indirect transfer of money, securities, or other property from the Investment Properties or either of them to, or for the benefit of, the Individual Defendant.
I. "Document" is synonymous in meaning and equal in scope to the usage of the term in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 34(a), and includes writings, drawings, graphs, charts, photographs, audio and video recordings, computer records, and other data compilations from which the information can be obtained and translated, if necessary, through detection devices into reasonably usable form. A draft or non-identical copy is a separate document within the meaning of the term.
J. "Financial related product or service" means any product, service, plan or program represented, expressly or by implication, to:
1. provide any consumer, arrange for any consumer to receive, or assist any consumer in receiving, credit, debit, or stored value cards;
2. improve, or arrange to improve, any consumer's credit record, credit history, or credit rating;
3. provide advice or assistance to any consumer with regard to any activity or service the purpose of which is to improve a consumer's credit record, credit history, or credit rating;
4. provide any consumer, arrange for any consumer to receive, or assist any consumer in receiving, a loan or other extension of credit; or
5. provide any consumer, arrange for any consumer to receive, or assist any consumer in receiving any service represented, expressly or by implication, to renegotiate, settle, or in any way alter the terms of payment or other terms of the debt between a consumer and one or more secured creditors, servicers, or debt collectors.
K. "Individual Defendant" means Stephen Todd Cook.
L. "Investment Properties" means the Individual Defendant's:
1. 2% ownership interest in the Two Oceans Fund, L.P. investment fund; and
2. 2% ownership interest in the Two Oceans Fund II, L.P. investment fund.
M. "Investment Property Net Proceeds" means the total proceeds from the sale or liquidation of the Investment Properties, individually or collectively, after payment of any reasonable and customary fees incurred in connection with such sale or liquidation that have been approved by counsel for the FTC, which approval shall not be unreasonably withheld.
N. "Person" means a natural person, an organization, or other legal entity, including a corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship, limited liability company, association, cooperative, or any other group or combination acting as an entity.
O. "Real Properties" means:
1. the real property and dwelling house located at 38541 Shoal Creek Drive, Murrieta, California;
2. the condominium located at 38707 Muirfield Drive, Murrieta, California; and
3. the real properties located at Plots 32 and 33, Coakley Bay, East End "B," St. Croix, United States Virgin Islands (Public Works Drawing 4839); together with any other structures, improvements, appurtenances, hereditaments, and other rights appertaining or belonging thereto.
P. "Real Property Net Proceeds" means the total proceeds from the sale or auction of the Real Properties, individually or collectively, after payment of obligations due and owing to any and all valid mortgage holders and other priority lien holders, any property taxes owed, any adjustments in favor of the buyer(s) required to sell the Real Properties, and any reasonable and customary real estate agent fees and closing costs incurred in connection with such sale or auction that have been approved by counsel for the FTC, which approval shall not be unreasonably withheld.
BAN ON DEBT RELIEF SERVICES
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that Defendants, whether acting directly or through any other person, are permanently restrained and enjoined from:
A. Advertising, marketing, promoting, offering for sale, or selling any debt relief service; and
B. Assisting others engaged in advertising, marketing, promoting, offering for sale, or ...