TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: FTC Whacks Integrated Credit Solutions/Lighthouse Gang!

FTC Whacks Integrated Credit Solutions/Lighthouse Gang!

Mark Crispin (mrc@CAC.Washington.EDU)
Wed, 3 May 2006 10:56:44 -0700

The wheels of justice turn slowly, but they do turn.

The Federal Trade Commission has announced a $2.4 million settlement
with the Integrated Credit Solutions, Flagship Capital Services,
Lighthouse Credit Foundation, Mary H. Mecher, J. Steven Mcwhorter, and
Jeffrey E. Poorman; and proceedings continue against Daniel
M. Melgar. This gang made prerecorded phone calls to practically
everybody in the country (including my cell phone!) advertising their
"credit counseling services".

The FTC didn't mince words: not only did they make illegal calls, but
they didn't provide the promised interest rate deductions, nor lowered
interest rates within the promised time, nor provided any financial
counseling, nor was their stiff "administrative fee" tax deductable in
spite of their claims.

One of their lies (repeated in multiple threatening letters from their
lawyer) was that telemarketer Integrated Credit Solutions (run by
Mcworter) and "non-profit credit counseler" Lighthouse Credit
Foundation (run by Melcer) were independent entities. It turned out
that Mcworter and Melcer go back quite a ways.

McWorter ran Flagship Mortgage Services, the home equity unit of
Republic Bank of St. Petersburg; it marketed home equity loans
nationwide as a way for high-risk borrowers to escape credit card
dept. Flagship went belly-up in late 1998, and Republic Bank was
forced to lay off 340 employees and take a $7.5 million loss. Melcer
was Republic Bank's senior VP of mortgage banking. [Source:
St. Petersburg Times]

Not surprisingly, these two lovebirds had to find new work. They took
the name Flagship with them, and tried various things until by late
2000 when they had the Flagship/ICS/Lighthouse axis set up, and then
they set about harassing people throughout their country with their
telemarketing calls starting in 2001.

Melcer tries to portray herself about being all sweetness and honesty,
supporting Girl Scouts, etc. What she doesn't say is that she had no
previous experience with credit counseling or managing non-profits;
nor that she invested in Flagship; or that she worked with Flagship to
set up the "independent" Lighthouse; or that Flagship paid Lighthouse
$65K to get it started. [Source: Massachusetts Attorney General]

-- Mark --
Democracy is two wolves and a sheep deciding what to eat for lunch.
Liberty is a well-armed sheep contesting the vote.

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