The Federal Trade Commission began mailing checks this week to more than 172,000 consumers nationwide who were falsely promised shopping sprees, movie passes and gas vouchers as part of enrollment in paid discount buying and travel clubs. Consumers who were victims of the “Wal-Mart Shopping Spree” scam will receive a total of more than $3 million in refunds. The average check is $18.
The architect of the scheme, Brian K. McGregor, and Membership Services Direct, Inc., also known as Continuity Partners, Inc., were ordered to pay $28.2 million in the 2008 case. They are banned from telemarketing and selling memberships.
The other companies involved in the telemarketing scam – Universal Premium Services, Inc. (aka Premier Benefits, Inc.), Consumer Reward Network, Inc., Star Communications LLC, All Star Access, Inc., Prime Time Ventures, Inc., Connect2USA, Inc., Merchant Risk Management, Inc., and Pantel One Corporation – were shut down.
The refund checks must be cashed within 60 days of receipt. Consumers should call 1-866-783-5589 with any questions or visit the FTC's refund Web page.