Ex-CFO of Stanford Financial Group Pleads Guilty to $7 Billion Ponzi Scheme

The former chief financial officer of Stanford Financial Group has pleaded guilty to three criminal counts for his part in an alleged $7 billion Ponzi scheme.

James Davis plead guilty to conspiracy to commit mail, wire and securities fraud as well as mail fraud.

Indicted in June, he also plead guilty to conspiracy to obstruct a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation.

Davis has agreed to the entry of a preliminary order of forfeiture in the amount of $1 billion.

Most ‘robo-calls’ will stop Sept. 1

The Federal Trade Commission is set to put an end to annoying “robo-calls” at the end of this month.

According to an AP report, the regulatory action will require telemarketing firms to seek written permission from consumers before soliciting them with pre-recorded telephone offers for such products as car warranties and vacations. This is commonly known as “robo-calling.”

Previously, consumers had to be on the federal Do Not Call list to avoid receiving these calls, but regulators apparently got the message that few, if any, consumers want to be interrupted by these phone calls.

Companies that violate the new law will be fined up to $16,000 per illegal call made.

Exceptions to this new law include calls concerning flight cancellations, debt collections, political calls, charitable donations, insurance company calls and those from phone companies. Health care messages will also be allowed to be pre-recorded.

North Carolina lawmaker calls for investigation of CVS pharmacy

U.S. Rep. Larry Kissell, of North Carolina, has asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate CVS/Caremark pharmacy for anti-competitive and deceptive practices.

According to a report from The Charlotte Observer, Kissell believes, based on hearings he hosted several months ago, that CVS/Caremark has an unfair prescription drug pricing program.

Kissell believes CVS should not have been allowed to merge with Caremark in 2006. CVS is the nation’s largest pharmacy and Caremark was the largest benefits provider.

He said this merger has virtually eliminated small, independent pharmacists.

Eight Arrested in $1.4 Million Mortgage Scam

Eight people, including four lawyers, face charges in an alleged mortgage scheme that defrauded four Westchester County families and two mortgage lenders of $1.4 million.

They reached out to homeowners, saying they could transfer the deed to an investor, who would hold the title so they could save money and reclaim their home.

They then got inflated mortgages, which they used to pay off the original mortgage and kept the remainder for themselves.

Victims have filed civil lawsuits to try to reclaim what they lost and fighting eviction proceedings.

They each face up to five to 15 years in state prison.

State leaders form mortgage fraud task force

Several state Attorney Generals have formed a task force with federal officials to combat mortgage fraud.

After meetings in Washington, D.C., earlier this summer, Attorney Generals from 10 states decided to pool resources in taking a proactive approach to curbing mortgage fraud.

Larger cities across the country have thousands of properties involved in some type of mortgage fraud ring. These criminal operations have resulted in millions of ill-gotten profits for those involved, and thousands more out of homes.

From elaborate purchasing schemes using straw buyers, phony appraisals and loan applications to phony or misleading mortgage rescue operations, mortgage fraud has played a large role in the financial recession gripping the country.

The new task force is being lead by Washington (state) Attorney General Rob McKenna and Iowa AG Tom Miller. Attorneys from Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Nevada, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Missouri and Ohio. These state officials are being joined by federal help from the Department of Justice, the federal Treasury, the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development and the Federal Trade Commission.

Debit Card Company Settles FTC Complaint

Debit card company VirtualWorks has agreed to settle a complaint brought by the FTC.

The company charged customers $54.95 for a debit card they had unknowingly ordered when applying for a payday loan online through Swish Marketing.

California-based VirtualWorks was formerly known as Private Date Finder and was also doing business as EverPrivate Card and Secret Cash Card.

The card company paid the payday loan firm up to $15 for each transaction.

The settlement order imposes a $5.5 million judgment and a stop to marketing techniques used by the defendants.

Starbucks settles with California DAs on gift card refunds

Starbucks Coffee Company has agreed to settle fraud charges with several California District Attorneys over customers not receiving cash for their gift cards.

According to a report, numerous California customers had demanded cash back on their Starbucks gift cards when the balance was under $10.

Starbucks employees would try to force customers into buying a product at the stores to get their refund.

The coffee company avoids admitting fault by settling the charges for $225,000. Starbucks must adjust its registers to allow customers to get cash for their remaining balances on gift cards.

Lawsuits Filed Against Acai Berry Suppliers

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has urged consumers to be cautious of signing up for free trials of acai berry products.

Madigan filed consumer fraud lawsuits against three suppliers and a local affiliate marketer of acai products charging that the companies lure customers with free trials.

The companies then charge customers’ credit cards prematurely, do not always supply the product and make it nearly impossible to cancel.

The lawsuits ask for restitution for consumers who have lost money and civil penalties of $50,000 for violating the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act.

State attorneys pushing for new consumer regulatory branch

A group of 24 state attorneys is pleading with members of Congress to help pass legislation to establish the Consumer Financial Protection Agency.

According to a Reuters report, the attorneys believe establishing this regulatory branch, it would curb a lot of shady business, especially among financial institutions.

On this blog, nearly every day a post features one scam or scheme operated across the country, many of which prey on people’s desperate situations concerning money.

Everything from bogus mortgage rescue services to false advertising would all be enforced in theory by this new agency.

The lawyers said consumers don’t have the ability to sue fraudulent companies operating in financial services because they hide behind the lax rules already in place at the federal level.

Former Credit Suisse Broker Convicted of Securities Fraud

Former Credit Suisse Group AG broker Eric Butler has been convicted of fraudulently selling millions of dollars in subprime securities to corporate clients.

Those sales allowed him to generate higher commissions.

Butler falsely told clients the products were backed by federally-guaranteed student loans and a safe alternative to bank deposits or money market funds.

The products were actually linked to auction-rate securities.

Butler, convicted of conspiracy to commit securities fraud, securities fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, faces a maximum sentence of 45 years in prison.