COURT ENTERS PERMANENT INJUNCTION
AGAINST PAYMENT PROCESSING CENTER
12, 2007 - PHILADELPHIA,
PA – United States District Court Judge John R. Padova has entered
a permanent injunction against Payment Processing Center, LLC (“PPC”),
headquartered in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and its owners and managers,
Donald M. Hellinger, Michael Weisberg, Ronald Hellinger, Jamie Pearlman,
Randy D. Trost, Michele O’Keefe Quigley, and Robert DeBoyace.
Fraudulent telemarketers use third-party payment processors like PPC to facilitate the banking procedures by which money is taken without authorization, often on a recurring basis, from victims’ bank accounts. In a civil action captioned United States of America v. Payment Processing Center, LLC, et al., Civil Action No. 06-00725 (JP), the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania obtained a permanent injunction that terminates PPC’s operations, imposes a receivership over its assets, and establishes a multi-million dollar restitution fund for victims of PPC and fraudulent telemarketers. The restitution program will include mailed notices to all of PPC’s victims who have not already received full refunds. The U.S. Attorney’s Office anticipates that at least $4 million of the defendants’ assets will be available to fund the restitution program.
The injunction also imposes a lifetime prohibition against PPC’s owners and managers from ever again engaging in any activity in which unsigned bank drafts are used to process payments for telemarketers. The defendants also are permanently restricted in their performance of other payment processing activities. The permanent injunction ends the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s civil litigation against PPC and the individual defendants.
U.S. Attorney Patrick L. Meehan described the permanent injunction as a warning to payment processors and others operating fraudulent schemes behind the facade of performing legitimate business.
“This case shows that fraudulent schemes against consumers – particularly
against society’s most vulnerable – are not beyond the scrutiny
of law enforcement, despite the use of third-party camouflage,” said
Meehan. Meehan also urges consumers to remain vigilant to protect their personal
information, including bank account information, particularly when they receive
unsolicited telephone calls and mailings.
The case began in February 2006, when the U.S. Attorney’s Office obtained a temporary restraining order against PPC and its owners, alleging that they were processing consumer payments for an international network of fraudulent telemarketers. In a civil action brought under the Anti-Fraud Injunction Statute, 18 U.S.C. §1345, the United States alleged that telemarketers duped tens of thousands of victims from across the United States, including many senior citizens, with false and misleading offers of goods and services, and manipulated consumers to disclose personal bank account information. Fraudulent telemarketers transmitted consumers’ bank account information to PPC. PPC then created unsigned bank drafts – checks without signatures – based upon the consumers’ fraudulently obtained bank account information. Using accounts at Wachovia Bank, PPC processed the unsigned bank drafts for payment. All the while, the United States alleged, the defendants knew that the telemarketers had obtained consumers’ bank account information through fraud, misrepresentations, and trickery, or that it remained indifferent the telemarketers’ illegal conduct.
The United States alleged that PPC attempted to withdraw more than $140 million from consumers’ accounts during a ten-month period starting in early 2005 and ending in February 2006, resulting in more than $50 million in consumer losses.
Telemarketing fraud costs Americans about $40 billion every year. The Federal Trade Commission estimates that 85% of the victims are 65 or older. Seniors are attractive targets for telemarketing fraudsters because they are more likely to be home to receive a telemarketer’s call, and are often too polite to hang up.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joel M. Sweet and Mark Anderson represented the United States in the action. Postal Inspector Jeffrey Braun of the United States Postal Inspection Service, a division of the United States Postal Service, was the lead investigator.
The Court has appointed Wayne Geisser, CPA, of Nihill & Riedley P.C., as the Receiver of Payment Processing Center, LLC. Inquiries should be directed to 1-866-486-6205.
STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE
EASTERN DISTRICT, PENNSYLVANIA
Suite 1250, 615 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
*An Indictment or Information is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Benjamin Franklin Photo by B. Krist for the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation