The operators of an online registration service for motor carriers has agreed to settle with the Federal Trade Commission over charges that they impersonated and falsely claimed affiliation with the U.S. Department of Transportation and other government agencies.
The two were accused of deceiving small trucking businesses into paying them for federal and state motor carrier registrations.
Under the settlement order, the defendants are banned from misrepresenting affiliation with any government entity and from using consumer billing information to obtain payments without expressed consent.
They must also adequately disclose that they are a private third-party service provider and any fees associated with their services. The order imposes a $900,000 judgment that must be paid within one day.
James P. Lamb and Uliana Bogash were accused of violating the FTC Act and the Restore Online Shoppers Confidence ACT while operating under the company names DOTAuthority.com and DOTFIlings.com, Excelsior Enterprises International, and JPL Enterprises International.
Certain trucking companies that must register annually with the Unified Carrier Registration system can register through the official UCR website or the official website of their state. Lamb and Bogash are accused of taking more than $19 million from thousands of small businesses by creating the false impression that they were affiliated with U.S. DOT, the UCR system, or another government agency.
Through allegedly misleading robocalls, emails, and text messages they would send false warnings to the fleets that they could be subjected to civil penalties, fines, or law enforcement actions unless they registered with one of their sites instead of through official government websites.
They were also accused of obscuring the total amount charged, which ranged from $25 to $500 or more. In some cases, fleets alleged that they were automatically enrolled in an annual renewal program without knowledge or consent.
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