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Monday, March 4, 2024

FTC Case Leads to Permanent Ban Against Merchant Cash Advance Owner for Deceiving Small Businesses, Seizing Personal and Business Assets

As a result of a Federal Trade Commission lawsuit, Jonathan Braun, who controlled small-business funding company RCG Advances, will face a permanent ban from the merchant cash advance and debt collection industries. A federal court issued summary judgment in favor of the FTC in the case along with a permanent injunction against Braun.

“Mr. Braun and his company targeted small business consumers with an egregious array of tactics, from predatory contract terms to violent threats, and the court’s opinion is a significant win on their behalf,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “This case makes clear that the FTC will fight back against those who prey on small businesses.”

The FTC sued Braun in June 2020, along with four other defendants, for his role with RCG Advances, which formerly did business as Richmond Capital Group, charging that he deceived small businesses and other organizations by misrepresenting the terms of merchant cash advances the business provided, and then used unfair collection practices, including sometimes threatening physical violence, to compel consumers to pay.

The suit also alleged that Braun and the other defendants made unauthorized withdrawals from consumers’ accounts and required businesses and their owners to sign confessions of judgment as part of their contracts, which allowed the defendants to go immediately to court and obtain an uncontested judgment in case of an alleged default. The complaint alleges that the defendants unlawfully and unfairly used these confessions of judgment to seize consumers’ personal and business assets in circumstances not expected by consumers or permitted by the defendants’ financing contracts.

The court’s opinion granting summary judgment in favor of the FTC found that Braun engaged in “extensive misconduct” that violated both the FTC Act and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley (GLB) Act, and that Braun was liable for the damages caused by his and the company’s unlawful conduct.

The permanent injunction includes a number of key provisions:

  • Ban on merchant cash advance: Braun is permanently banned from any involvement with the merchant cash advance industry, including assisting anyone else in offering those services.
  • Ban on debt collection: Braun is permanently banned from the debt collection industry.
  • Remove negative credit information: Braun is required to contact credit reporting agencies within 30 days to remove any negative information that was filed on consumer or business credit reports as a result of his actions.
  • Prohibition on deceiving consumers and unauthorized charges: Braun is prohibited from deceiving consumers about any product or service, and is also prohibited from charging consumers without their authorization.

The court has scheduled a trial for January 2024 to determine the amount of monetary relief that should be imposed for Braun’s law violations.

The other defendants in the FTC’s case previously settled the FTC’s charges against them, resulting in industry bans and monetary relief totaling more than $2 million.

Official news published at https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/news/press-releases/2023/10/ftc-case-leads-permanent-ban-against-merchant-cash-advance-owner-deceiving-small-businesses-seizing

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