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The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has sued the owner of a nationwide automotive marketing and sales firm for allegedly mailing bogus stimulus checks for $3,344 to lure people into buying used cars.
The defendants are David J. Jeansonne II and Traffic Jam Events LLC. The civil suit was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in New Orleans.
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Jeansonne is the owner, managing member and president of the company, which offers direct-mail marketing services and staffed tent-sales events to car dealers nationwide. It operates chiefly from Kenner, Louisiana, in suburban New Orleans, according to the suit.
The defendants are accused of deceiving consumers in this manner since at least March, in violation of federal consumer-protection laws. They have been “unjustly enriched” by their “unlawful acts or practices,” the suit states.
At the FTC, Jim Kreidler wrote a blog post about the litigation, which asks the court to halt the defendants’ alleged schemes and order other relief.
Mock check for $3,344 mailed
"During these difficult economic times, scammers will do almost anything to try to get your money. Including, it turns out, making bogus claims about economic stimulus checks to lure consumers to auto sales events,” Kreidler, a consumer education specialist, wrote. He gave tips to avoid scams like these.
Court exhibits with the mailing in question show a $3,344.68 check issued by the “Stimulus Relief Program.” A memo on the check specifies it is tied to the “COVID-19 Auto Stimulus.”
But the CARES Act has no car-buying stimulus program. The federal law gives eligible individuals checks for $1,200 and married couples $2,400.
Despite what the defendants assert, consumers are not receiving important COVID-19 information in the mailings, the FTC's suit states. Nor are consumers getting stimulus relief or checks affiliated with the U.S. government, though the mailings feature a likeness of the great seal of the United States.