If you were one of the 2,600 people charged illegal upfront fees for student-loan debt-relief services provided by Amanda Johnson, David Mize, Jacob Slaughter, or Daniel Ruggiero, working with GST Factoring, you may receive a check in the mail. Payments will be sent on March 23, 2023, through RUST Consulting. For additional questions, contact (833) 472 1987 or GST_info@rustcfpbconsumerprotection.org.
In 2020 the CFPB filed a complaint in the federal district court for the Central District of California against GST Factoring, Inc., which runs a student-loan debt-relief business in Texas, and two of its owners, Rick Graff and Gregory Trimarche, as well as Champion Marketing Solutions, LLC, a customer service and marketing company, and its owner, Scott Freda. The CFPB also filed suit against four attorneys who provided the debt-relief services in connection with GST Factoring and Champion Marketing: Amanda Johnson, David Mize, Jacob Slaughter, and Daniel Ruggiero. The CFPB alleged that the companies, their owners, and the attorneys were part of a nationwide student-loan debt-relief operation that charged approximately $11.8 million in illegal upfront fees to thousands of consumers saddled with private student-loan debt. The Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) states that it is illegal to request or receive any fees for debt-relief services sold through telemarketing before the debt is settled or renegotiated.
Starting in 2015, the defendants violated the TSR’s prohibition on requesting or receiving advance fees for debt-relief services, or substantially assisted others in violating this prohibition by charging illegal advance fees purportedly to renegotiate student loan debt. Using telemarketing campaigns, the debt-relief operation led consumers to believe that they were working solely with an attorney, but in fact, the fees—which were as large as about 40 percent of the consumers’ outstanding student-loan debt—went to GST Factoring, which distributed the funds to the participants in the scheme. The complaint also alleged that consumers were encouraged to stop paying their student loans altogether. Judgments were entered against all defendants and included total monetary judgements of approximately $11.8 million to redress harmed consumers and penalties totaling over $30 million, some of which was suspended based on a documented inability to pay.
About the CFPB Civil Penalty Fund
Obtaining consumer redress is a top priority in any enforcement action. When the CFPB enforces the law, we or a court may require the person or company to compensate its victims for this harm by providing consumer redress using its own funds. In certain circumstances, when the person or company does not have sufficient funds, however, the CFPB uses a victims relief fund – also known as the Civil Penalty Fund – to compensate victims who have not received full compensation for their harm through redress paid by the defendant in their case.