The Federal Trade Commission announced today that the agency returned approximately $12.7 million to consumers last week from a settlement with Andris Pukke and his companies, AmeriDebt, Inc. and DebtWorks, Inc. This consumer redress concludes the largest credit counseling/debt management fraud case brought by the FTC. In addition, more than $7 million will be returned to consumers as a result of class-action settlements with the defendants and related credit counseling agencies.
Using the defendants’ records, about 287,000 AmeriDebt consumers have been mailed redress checks. The FTC and individual consumers alleged that AmeriDebt, DebtWorks, and related credit counseling agencies engaged in deceptive practices in promoting and offering credit counseling and debt management plans (DMPs).
Per the FTC’s website, consumers who qualified for redress, a total of about 460,000 consumers, obtained a DMP from one of 11 credit counseling agencies serviced by DebtWorks between January 31, 1998 and October 7, 2004. The agencies were AmeriDebt, Inc., Debticated Consumer Counseling, Inc., A Better Way Credit Counseling, Inc., Credicure, Inc., Mason Credit Counseling, Inc., Nexum Credit Counseling, Inc., Neway, Inc., The Credit Network, Inc., Visual Credit Counseling, Inc., Preactive, Inc., and Debtscape, Inc.