The Federal Trade Commission filed a complaint with U.S. District Court alleging that Christopher Mallett has engaged in deceptive practices online, targeting debt-ridden consumers. The complaint outlines Mallett’s alleged misdeeds, which include violations of the Federal Trade Commission Act.
According to the FTC, Mallett:
- Impersonated federal consumer protection agencies on multiple websites.
- Falsely claimed that he and his websites were affiliated with federal consumer protection agencies.
- Invented a consumer protection agency that does not actually exist (the Department of Consumer Services Protection Commission).
The FTC claims that Mallett attempted to attract debt-ridden consumers to his site and redirect them to affiliate sites that provided relief for mortgages, debts, and taxes. None of these sites had any actual affiliation with the federal government, and all reportedly charged customers for their services.
If proven, these actions would violate the Telemarketing Sales Rule and the Mortgage Assistance Relief Services Rule, which outline how online services and mortgage assistance can be advertised and sold.
Plagiarism of FTC Words & Symbols
In addition to Mallett’s alleged fraudulent affiliation claims, the FTC charges that he improperly used the FTC’s official seal and closely copied language from the FTC’s web site on his own web pages. Mallett’s companies and web sites reportedly include:
- U.S. Debt Care
- World Law Debt
- U.S. Mortgage Relief Counsel
Because of the close matches between official government logos and language and that on Mallett’s sites, he may also face charges of impersonating government agencies.
Unsubstantiated Debt Settlement Claims
In addition to his false claims of government affiliation, Mallett reportedly made unsubstantiated claims about how his services could benefit consumers. The FTC notes that Mallett promised substantial reduction in consumer debts, even going so far as to publish charts showing previous customers’ “success” in lowering their debts.
Mortgage & Debt Relief Scams
The FTC is bringing the complaint as part of its efforts to eliminate scams that prey on consumers who are struggling with mortgage-related debt and other types of consumer debt. These types of scams can be particularly malicious because unsuspecting consumers may spend money they can barely afford for what they believe is a service that will help them turn their finances around.
When they learn that the service was nothing more than a scam, they often suffer a double blow of having lost money and having lost a chance at getting significant help toward improving their financial situation.
In some cases, consumers turn to such services to avoid filing for bankruptcy; ironically, spending money on such scams may push these consumers over the edge financially, leaving them with few choices besides personal bankruptcy.