The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has put forth a proposed settlement regarding Process America. If accepted by the courts, it will resolve the ongoing allegations against the payment processor, Process America Inc. as well as the owners of the company, Kim Ricketts, Keith Phillips and Craig Rickard. The allegations state that the company used unfair tactics to target consumers with the goal of opening and maintaining merchant accounts for Infusion Media Inc.
The scam was perpetrated under the name, “Google Money Tree” which was marketed as a work-at-home opportunity where people could make $100,000 in just six months. The FTC also says that the marketing used to promote this system made it seem as if the program was associated with Google, which it was not.
From 2008 through 2009, Payment America Inc charged over $15 Million in unauthorized charges on credit and debit accounts. They were able to get away with the scheme for so long because they had opened 131 separate merchant accounts to process the charges through. They used strategies which were specifically developed to attempt to evade the fraud monitoring systems from Visa and MasterCard. Included in these tactics was the submission of multiple merchant accounts with false information, distributing the transaction volume throughout all of their merchant accounts, or ‘load balancing.’
Payment America Inc. got paid a fee for the payment processing activity from Infusion Media’s scam. It was unclear at the time of this writing whether Payment America was also processing for other companies, or if they worked exclusively with Infusion Media.
In order to settle this case, each of the three defendants have agreed to individual permanent injunctions, prohibitions and restrictions on any future activity in the payment processing industry.
Craig Rickard will be banned from payment processing as well as acting as an Independent Sales Organization (ISO). In addition, he is prohibited from being a sales agent for any clients engaged in a variety of different unfair or high risk practices. He has also been fined more than $184,000, which is suspended because of his inability to pay. In the event that it is found that he has misrepresented his financial condition, the full amount will become due immediately.
Kim Ricketts and Keith Phillips are barred from acting as payment processors, independent sales organizations or sales agents for any company or client engaged in unfair or deceptive business practices, or certain types of high-risk activities, among other things. Process America Inc. is also barred from continuing these practices.
The FTC has approved this settlement, and is submitting it to the United States Bankruptcy for the Central District of California for approval.