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Friday, April 12, 2024

FTC charges schemers with ‘tricking small business truckers’ in filings scam

Using fake government affiliation to sell commercial trucking registration services, James P. Lamb and Uliana Bogash and their companies are being charged with bilking more than $19 million from small-business truckers. The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida by the Federal Trade Commission resulting in a preliminary injunction against the defendants on Sept. 29, 2016.

A federal judge has granted the Federal Trade Commission’s request for a preliminary injunction against the two and their companies for allegedly tricking small commercial trucking businesses into paying them for federal and state motor carrier registrations by impersonating government transportation agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Defendants James P. Lamb, Uliana Bogash, DOTAuthority.com Inc., DOTFilings.com Inc., Excelsior Enterprises International Inc. and JPL Enterprises International Inc. are charged with violating the FTC Act and the Restore Online Shoppers Confidence Act.

Consumers who own and operate certain types of commercial vehicles must register annually with the Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) system or their state government and pay a fee based on their fleet size. Some of these small businesses also must file a Motor Carrier Identification Report every two years.

According to the FTC’s complaint, the defendants have taken in more than $19 million from thousands of small businesses by sending misleading robocalls, emails, and text messages that create and reinforce the false impression that they are, or are affiliated with, the U.S. DOT, the UCR system, or another government agency. In the FTC’s complaint, the commission notes that the defendants used official-sounding names, official-looking websites, warnings of $1,000 in civil penalties or fines for non-compliance, and threats of imminent law enforcement to trick consumers into using their registration services.

According to the complaint, the defendants deceptively disclosed the total amount charged, without telling consumers the cost included the defendants’ service fees that ranged from $25 to $550 or more. The FTC also alleges that many consumers who paid the defendants’ UCR fees were automatically enrolled, without their knowledge or consent, in “SafeRenew,” the defendants’ annual renewal program for UCR fees.

Specifically, who was enjoined? According to that signed order, all of the corporate defendants and individual defendants are regarded as defendants, individually, collectively or in any combination.

The order clarified that corporate defendants means DOTAuthority.com Inc. also doing business as On -Line Registration; DOTFilings.com, International Inc., DOTFilings.com, UCR Inc.; Excelsior Enterprises, also doing business as DOTAuthority.com, DOTFilings.com, On-Line Registration, also doing business as Registration, UCR Filings and Lamb & Associates; JPL Enterprises. Individual defendants are James P. Lamb and Uliana Bogash, also known as Juliana Bogash, Yana Bogash and Uliana Vogash or Yuliana Bogash.