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GST Factoring, Inc., Champion Marketing Solutions, LLC, Rick Graff, Gregory Trimarche, Scott Freda, Amanda Johanson, David Mize, Jacob Slaughter, and Daniel Ruggiero

On July 13, 2020, the Bureau 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 Texas customer service and marketing company, and its owner, Scott Freda. The Bureau also filed suit against four attorneys, California attorneys Amanda Johanson and Jacob Slaughter, Arizona attorney David Mize, and attorney Daniel Ruggiero, who is barred in a number of states but resides in Florida. The Bureau alleges that the companies, their owners, and the attorneys were part of a nationwide student-loan debt-relief operation that charged thousands of consumers, saddled with private student-loan debt, approximately $11.8 million in illegal upfront fees in violation of the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR). Among other things, the Bureau sought $11.8 million in redress for harmed consumers.

Concurrent with the complaint, the Bureau and four of the defendants filed proposed stipulated final judgments and orders to resolve the claims against them, which the court entered on August 17, 2020. The orders collectively impose an approximate $11.8 million monetary judgment against the settling defendants for consumer redress, full payment of which will be suspended upon the settling defendants’ paying a portion of the redress based on their demonstrated inability to pay the full amount of judgment in each order. Each settling defendant will also pay a $1 civil money penalty to the Bureau. Trimarche is permanently banned from engaging in debt-relief services and from telemarketing consumer financial products or services. Mize, Slaughter, and Ruggiero are subject to permanent debt-relief bans.

On December 3, 2020, the court entered a default judgment and order against GST Factoring, Inc. and Rick Graff. The order imposes a $11,618,522 monetary judgment against the defaulted defendants for consumer redress and imposes a $15,000,000 penalty against each of them. The order also permanently bans the defaulted defendants from engaging in debt-relief services and telemarketing consumer financial products or services. On December 15, 2020, the court entered a stipulated final judgment and order against Champion Marketing Solutions, LLC and Scott Freda. The order imposes a $11,618,522 monetary judgment against the settling defendants, full payment of which will be suspended upon their paying $5,000 based on their demonstrated inability to pay. Each settling defendant will also pay a $1 civil money penalty to the Bureau. They are also permanently banned from engaging in debt-relief services and from telemarketing consumer financial products or services. On December 15, 2020, the court entered a default judgment and order against Amanda Johanson. The order permanently bans her from engaging in debt-relief services and imposes a $4,992,606 monetary judgment against her for consumer redress and a $5,000,000 penalty.

Related documents

Complaint

Stipulated final judgment and order - Gregory Trimarche

Stipulated final judgment and order - Jacob Slaughter

Stipulated final judgment and order - David Mize

Stipulated final judgment and order - Daniel Ruggiero

Stipulated final judgment and order - GST Factoring, Inc. and Rick Graff

Stipulated final judgment and order - Champion Marketing Solutions, LLC and Scott Freda

Stipulated final judgment and order - Amanda Johanson

Press release

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Sues Student-Loan Debt-Relief Operation for Taking Illegal Advance Fees and Settles with Some Participants