Who’s brokering your data?

If the friend of a friend is my friend, and the enemy of a friend is my enemy, then is the seller of data to a scammer also a scammer? In a case announced today, the FTC said it might well be.

Here’s the backstory: In 2013, we told you about a case we brought against Ideal Financial Solutions, Inc., a Nevada corporation. That company, says the FTC, bought information that let it raid consumers’ bank and credit card accounts for millions — without the consumers’ OK or even knowledge. At the time, it was clear that many of these consumers had applied for online payday loans. But what wasn’t clear at the time was where Ideal Financial Solutions, Inc. had gotten those bank account and credit card numbers.

Until now. Today, the FTC said that a data broker operation — Sequoia One, LLC, Gen X Marketing Group, LLC, and four principals — collected sensitive information from online payday loan applications, including Social Security numbers, credit card and bank account numbers. Then, says the FTC, they turned around and sold it to companies that included non-lenders like Ideal Financial Solutions, Inc. which the defendants knew were taking money from peoples’ bank accounts and credit cards. And, says the FTC, the defendants actually helped hide Ideal Financial Solution scam.

Three of the defendants — Paul T. McDonnell, Theresa D. Bartholomew, and John E. Bartholomew, Jr. — agreed to settle the FTC charges. The proposed order imposes a monetary judgment, and says they can’t sell or benefit from selling consumer information from now on. The case against the rest of the defendants will be litigated.

So, what’s a person to do? Mainly this: think long and hard before you give out your Social Security number or bank or credit card information. Sometimes, you have to, if you want the service or offer. But stop and think: what do you know about the company, their website, or how they’ll protect your information? And if you think something has gone amiss with information you’ve already shared, tell the FTC.

[Note: Edited August 26, 2016, to specify that the Nevada-based company name is Ideal Financial Solutions, Inc.]

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Comments

My question is: If these two takers get off with paying a fine of $15.000.00, and not go to jail, were is the $70,985,000.00 that was stolen from persons involved? The article did not explain.

Thanks for the work of the FTC. Reply would be appreciated.

The case discussed in this blog is against a data broker operation that the FTC charges illegally sold payday loan applicants' financial information. 

According to the FTC, the data brokers sold applicants' information to a scam operation. According to the FTC's press release, it was the scam operation that took $7.1 from consumers' accounts.

Three of the defendants in the data broker operation have agreed to settle FTC charges. Litigation continues against the other defendants.

You can read about the FTC case against the alleged scam operation that took money from consumers (Ideal Financial Solutions, Inc., et al.)

My sentiments exactly! These creeps should be made to pay back all their ill-gotten gains, then spend some prime time in jail - I'd say, a year for every million they stole.

I've been getting a lot of emails from several emails asking me for my personal information saying that I won money how can I send those emails verify it and also somebody used my social security to get a mortgage loan out what do I do about that?

The emails that ask for your personal information might be from scammers. Some scammers say you have won a prize, then ask for your information, or ask you to pay, but you really don't get a prize. They use your information to charge your accounts, or take money from your bank. Don't share personal or financial information with someone you don't know.

You can learn more about Prize Scams in this FTC article.

If someone used your Social Security number to get a mortgage, go to identitytheft.gov and read about what to do. The site explains the steps to take when identity theft happens.

There should be a list of who they stole from, the amount and date of restitution. The courts should demand the thieves to be held accountable and pay back each person the amount they stole.

When these scamers are caught and fined, doe the victims receive any of this money to help compensate them for their losses?

In some cases, the FTC is able to get people all their money back.

In other cases, we are not. If that happens, the FTC gives as much money as possible to each buyer. The exact amount will depend on how much the defendants are able to pay, how much the court orders for refunds, and how many people bought the product.

If there are refunds in an FTC case, the information will be posted here.

As long as the penalty is not heavier than the benefit to the 3rd. Person/institution seller/buyer they'll continue assaulting peoples using the internet.

I would like to see an update on this article to show if the persons harmed by this scam received any reimbursement.

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