The Federal Trade Commission is mailing checks totaling $89,736 to 246 small businesses who paid service fees to DOTAuthority.com Inc. or related defendants for commercial vehicle registrations based on allegedly deceptive advertising and practices.
The fees come from a $900,000 settlement paid by Excelsior Enterprises International, one of four corporate defendants in the case brought by the FTC. The others are DOTFilings.com, JPL Enterprises International and DOTAuthority.com
Two individuals tied to the four businesses, James Lamb and Uliana Bogash, were also listed as defendants.
The FTC said those who did not receive a refund check, but think they should have, should contact the refund administrator, Rust Consulting, at 866-303-8537. More information about the refund is available at www.ftc.gov/refunds.
According to the FTC’s October 2016 complaint, the defendants sent thousands of small businesses misleading messages that implied defendants were the U.S. Department of Transportation or were affiliated with DOT, the Unified Carrier Registration system or another government agency. Using official-sounding names and law enforcement threats, defendants tricked the businesses into using their commercial vehicle registration services. They also failed to adequately disclose their fees to consumers, including service fees ranging from $25 to more than $550.
Lamb has denied any wrongdoing. He says his materials were not misleading and that he was a victim of political attacks by the FTC and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
The defendants agreed to an order settling the FTC’s charges that bans the defendants from the illegal conduct alleged in the complaint. It also requires them, when contacting consumers, to disclose adequately that they are a private third-party service provider, as well as any fees associated with their services.
Recipients should deposit or cash checks within 60 days, as indicated on the check. The FTC never requires people to pay money or provide account information to cash a refund check.