The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced today that it is sending out payments totaling more than $9 million in refund payments to those affected by a student loan forgiveness scam.
It was run by Branden Frere, now serving 42 months in Federal prison, and a company he controlled called Ameritech Financial.
The FTC says that 22,562 consumers will be receiving payments as a result of his corrupt scheme.
The FTC says Ameritech employees tricked people into thinking they qualified for federal student loan and forgiveness programs. The scam was that the illegal up-front fees (up to $800) and monthly fees ($49-99) went straight into Ameritech’s pockets instead of paying down consumers' student loan balances.
The FTC has provided phone numbers and FAQs relating to the Administrator of the refund to see if you are one of the ones receiving a payment.
The scams took place between January 2014 and November 2018.
The FTC also wants consumers to know that no one needs to pay any money to obtain a refund. If you are told to do so, you are again getting scammed.
"The FTC will never charge you money or demand you share personal information to get a refund. Anyone who does is a scammer."
Interestingly, Mr. Frere's LinkedIn profile is still up. He was convicted of fraud and money laundering charges in July 2020 by a federal court in July 2020 and sentenced to 42 months in federal prison.
He was originally arrested on Dec. 5, 2018, at a San Francisco International Airport trying to flee the country to Mexico.
He was originally facing 20 years in prison under the charges. That is likely why he pleaded guilty to the deal for 42 months (3.5 years in prison).
In addition to the prison term, Judge Illston also ordered Frere to serve an additional term of 36 months of supervised release.
It appears that he is still in federal prison.
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