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Federal Trade Commission v. Grand Teton Professionals, LLC

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

July 23, 2019

FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION, Plaintiff,
v.
GRAND TETON PROFESSIONALS, LLC, et al., Defendants.

          STIPULATED PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION AS TO DEFENDANT STARTUP MASTERS N.J. INC.

          VICTOR A. BOLDEN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) commenced this civil action on June 17, 2019, under Sections 13(b) and 19 of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 53(b) and 57b, Section 410(b) of the Credit Repair Organizations Act (“CROA”), 15 U.S.C. § 1679h(b), Section 6(b) of the Telemarketing and Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act, 15 U.S.C. § 6105(b), the Consumer Review Fairness Act (“CRFA”), 15 U.S.C. § 45b, Section 108(c) of the Truth in Lending Act (“TILA”), 15 U.S.C. § 1607(c), and Section 918(c) of the Electronic Fund Transfers Act (“EFTA”), 15 U.S.C. § 1693o(c). (ECF No. 1.)

         On June 18, 2019, on motion by the FTC, the Court entered an ex parte temporary restraining order (“TRO”) with asset freeze and other equitable relief against Defendants Grand Teton Professionals, LLC, 99th Floor, LLC, Mait Management Inc., Demand Dynamics LLC, Atomium Corps Inc. (Wyoming), Atomium Corps Inc. (Colorado), Startup Masters N.J. Inc. (Wyoming), Startup Masters N.J. Inc. (New Jersey), First Incorporation Services Inc. (Wyoming), First Incorporation Services Inc. (Florida), Douglas Filter, and Marcio G. Andrade. (ECF No. 33.) Now, the FTC and Defendant Startup Masters N.J. Inc. (New Jersey), by and through their counsel, have stipulated and agreed to the entry of a preliminary injunction (“Order”).

         FINDINGS OF FACT

         By stipulation of the parties, the Court finds that:

A. The FTC and Stipulating Defendant have stipulated and agreed to the entry of this preliminary injunction order without any admission of wrongdoing or violation of law, and without a finding by the Court of law or fact other than stated below.
B. The Stipulating Defendant waives all rights to seek judicial review or otherwise challenge or contest the validity of this Order.
C. The FTC asserts that the Court has jurisdiction over the subject matter of this case, and there is good cause to believe that it will have jurisdiction over Defendants.
D. The FTC asserts that venue in the District of Connecticut is proper under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b) and (c) and 15 U.S.C. § 53(b).
E. The FTC asserts that there is good cause to believe that the Stipulating Defendant has engaged and is likely to continue to engage in acts or practices that violate Section 5(a) of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. § 45(a), CROA, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1679-1679l, the FTC's Telemarketing Sales Rule (“TSR”), 16 C.F.R. Part 310, the CRFA, 15 U.S.C. § 45b, TILA, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1601-1666j, and its implementing Regulation Z, 12 C.F.R. Part 1026, and Section 907(a) of EFTA, 15 U.S.C. § 1693e(a), and its implementing Regulation E, 12 C.F.R. Part 1005, and that the FTC is therefore likely to prevail on the merits of this action.
F. The FTC asserts that there is good cause to believe that immediate and irreparable harm will result from the Stipulating Defendant's alleged ongoing violations of Section 5(a) of the FTC Act, CROA, the TSR, the CRFA, TILA and Regulation Z, and EFTA and Regulation E unless the Stipulating Defendant is immediately restrained and enjoined by Order of this Court.
G. The FTC asserts that there is good cause to believe that immediate and irreparable damage to the Court's ability to grant effective final relief for consumers in the form of monetary restitution and/or disgorgement of ill-gotten gains will occur from the transfer, dissipation, or concealment by the Stipulating Defendant of its assets or business records unless the Stipulating Defendant is immediately restrained and enjoined by Order of this Court.
H. The FTC asserts that good cause exists for continuing the asset freeze over the Stipulating Defendant's assets.
I. This order is in the public interest.
J. No. security is required of any agency of the United States for issuance of a preliminary injunction, Fed.R.Civ.P. 65(c)).

         DEFINITIONS

         For this Order, the following definitions shall apply:

A. “Asset” means any legal or equitable interest in, right to, or claim to, any property, wherever located and by whomever held.
B. “Consumer” means any Person.
C. “Credit Repair Service” means any service, in return for payment of money or other valuable consideration, for the express or implied purpose of: (1) improving any consumer's credit report, credit record, credit history, credit profile, credit score, or credit rating; or (2) providing advice or assistance to any consumer with regard to any activity or service the purpose of which is to improve a consumer's credit report, credit record, credit history, credit profile, credit score, or credit rating.
D. “Defendants” means Corporate Defendants and Individual Defendants, individually, collectively, or in any combination. “Corporate Defendants” means Grand Teton Professionals, LLC, 99th Floor, LLC, Mait Management Inc., Demand Dynamics LLC, Atomium Corps Inc. (a Wyoming company), Atomium Corps Inc. (a Colorado company), Startup Masters N.J. Inc. (a Wyoming company), Startup Masters N.J. Inc. (a New Jersey company), First Incorporation Services Inc. (a Wyoming company), First Incoporation Services Inc. (a Florida company), and each of their subsidiaries, affiliates, successors, and assigns. “Individual Defendants” means Douglas Filter and Marcio G. Andrade, individually, collectively, or in any combination.
E. “Document” is synonymous in meaning and equal in scope to the usage of “document” and “electronically stored information” in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 34(a), Fed.R.Civ.P. 34(a), and includes writings, drawings, graphs, charts, photographs, sound and video recordings, images, Internet sites, web pages, websites, electronic correspondence, including e-mail and instant messages, contracts, accounting data, advertisements, FTP Logs, Server Access Logs, books, written or printed records, handwritten notes, telephone logs, telephone scripts, receipt books, ledgers, personal and business canceled checks and check registers, bank statements, appointment books, computer records, customer or sales databases and any other electronically stored information, including Documents located on remote servers or cloud computing systems, and other data or data compilations from which information can be obtained directly or, if necessary, after translation into a reasonably usable form. A draft or non-identical copy is a separate document within the meaning of the term.
F. “Electronic Data Host” means any person or entity in the business of storing, hosting, or otherwise maintaining electronically stored information. This includes, but is not limited to, any entity hosting a website or server, and any entity providing “cloud based” electronic storage.
G. “Person” means a natural person, an organization or other legal entity, including a corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship, limited liability company, association, cooperative, or any other group or combination acting as an entity.
H. “Stipulating Defendant” means Startup Masters N.J. Inc. (a New Jersey company) and its successors and assigns.

         ORDER PROHIBITED CREDIT REPAIR ACTIVITIES

         I. IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the Stipulating Defendant, the Stipulating Defendant's officers, agents, employees, and attorneys, and all other persons in active concert or participation with them, who receive actual notice of this Order by personal service or otherwise, whether acting directly or indirectly, in connection with the advertising, marketing, promoting, or offering for sale of any Credit Repair Service, are temporarily restrained and enjoined from:

         A. Misrepresenting or assisting others in misrepresenting, expressly or by implication:

1. That any Person can remove negative information or hard inquiries from any Person's credit report, credit record, credit history, credit profile;
2. That any Person will add any Person as an additional authorized user to any other Person's credit card or ...

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