A federal judge in El Paso has shut down a telemarketing scheme operating out of a home on the city’s far east side, after it allegedly bilked millions of dollars from people struggling with credit card debt.
The court issued a restraining order (read the order at the bottom of this article) against a pair of El Paso-based businesses, Madera Merchant Services and B&P Enterprises — halting their operations and freezing their assets.
The Federal Trade Commission said Bruce and Patricia Woods — along with their son-in-law Victor Rodriguez — operated the “rogue” debt consolidation businesses that sought to “scam consumers” from their 2,057 square foot home at 12282 Eagle Heart in far east El Paso.
The court complaint filed by the FTC alleged that the El Paso-based businesses, along with affiliated companies and individuals in the Dominican Republic and Canada, offered customers the opportunity to consolidate credit cards for lower interest rates “through millions of robocalls” and appeared to “provide no legitimate services to customers.”
Officials estimated the entire scheme defrauded victims of a total of $24.5 million, often by “accessing a consumer’s bank account without authorization” using remotely created checks — an illegal practice.
“This case is another reminder for consumers to stay away from any company promising to reduce debt for an advance fee,” said Andrew Smith, the director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.
The FTC said it is seeking court-ordered restitution for the victims.