The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has filed a proposed final judgement and order against BrightSpeed Solutions and its founder Kevin Howard over their alleged participation in fraudulent services and products.
Between 2016 and 2018, Chicago-based BrightSpeed and Howard knowingly processed payments for companies that telemarketed technical-support services and products to consumers but instead sold them antivirus software or services that frequently could be obtained for free, the bureau said. Many of the targeted consumers were older adults unaware of clickbait scams or the actual cost of what they bought, paying up to $2,000 in some cases, according to the original March 2021 complaint against the pair.
During that span, BrightSpeed and Howard processed remotely created check payments for more than 100 client companies totaling more than $70 million. They did so despite being aware of nearly 1,000 consumer complaints, several inquiries from police departments around the country, two banks raising concerns about their client companies, and payment return rates averaging more than 20 percent, above the standard 15, according to the CFPB.
If the order is entered, BrightSpeed and Howard — who was sole owner — would pay a civil penalty of $500,000 and be permanently barred from multiple consumer financial products and services industries. Founded in 2015, BrightSpeed ceased operations in 2019.
“BrightSpeed and Kevin Howard profited by helping bad actors scam older adults,” said CFPB Director Rohit Chopra. “We must do more to ensure our nation’s payments systems are not used to defraud older adults.”