(Via Bloomberg) The Federal Trade Commission said Friday that it is paying some $350,000 in refunds to 100 small U.S. merchants that were defrauded in a debit and credit card scheme. The scheme involved several firms that falsely promised they would save small businesses money in credit and debit card processing fees by offering lower rates that those of other card processing services. However, the firms failed to disclose fees and concealed pages of fine print until after the merchants had signed contracts for their services, the FTC said.
The FTC identified the firms that perpetrated the scheme as Merchant Processing Inc., Direct Merchant Processing Inc., Vequity Financial Group Inc. and PPI Services Inc. Also involved in the scam were Aaron Lee Rian and Karely McCarthy, also known as Karly Speelman, the FTC said. The agency reached settlements with Rian and McCarthy that banned them from marketing card processing goods or services for sale or lease. Certain of their assets were sold to provide funds for the refunds, the FTC said.Merchants due to receive refunds were to get between $100 and more than $25,000, depending on how much the merchant paid, the FTC said.