• Report: #256182

Complaint Review: TRAVEL LIFE GO DIRECT ,SUNTASIA MARKETING

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  • Submitted: Fri, June 22, 2007
  • Updated: Thu, July 26, 2007

  • Reported By:Lusby Maryland
TRAVEL LIFE GO DIRECT ,SUNTASIA MARKETING
Several Locations On Ulmerton Road Largo, FL Largo, Florida U.S.A.

TRAVEL LIFE GO DIRECT, SUNTASIA MARKETING STOLE MONEY OUT OF MY BANK ACCT Several Locations On Ulmerton Road, Largo Florida

*UPDATE EX-employee responds: FEDERAL AGENTS RAID STRATEGIA MARKETING AKA SUNTASIA AND SHUT IT DOWN.

*UPDATE EX-employee responds: Closed FTC

*UPDATE EX-employee responds: Another Alert On Suntasia/Strategia Promotions

*Consumer Comment: Florida Travel Enterprises

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Letter I sent to my bank:

I am writing this to dispute the unauthorized charge of 59.95 made on 11 May 2007 to my checking account XXXX by Travel Life Go Direct. Check number is 9704847.

I was solicited over the phone by the above mentioned company for their services on 20 April 2007. Somehow they managed to get my bank information and when I asked them how they got all of that information they stated they got it from a visa/sharecheck purchase I had made while I was in Clearwater, FL on business.

There was a recorded phone conversation where I told them that at no point do I authorized any charges to my account and they stated several times that they would not charge my account. I later got a packet in the mail with a letter stating that they have activated a membership with their company and I needed to call and cancel the account by 5-11-07 or my account would be billed for 40.00 + 19.95 monthly account fee. I saw a check clear out of my account on 15 May 07 for 59.95 and had to request a copy of the check 3 times to verify who the check was to before finally getting it in the mail on 19 June.

I called three times to cancel this account and the third time was on 11 May 2007 and was given the cancellation code # J05TLGDIMI. I attempted several times to resolve this with the company and was offered free gas vouchers for $100.00 instead of a refund or I would have to submit my request in writing (Spoke to a women who claimed her name was Rawkeya Wright.

I asked her to speak to a manager and she would not allow me and began screaming at me on the phone and got very rude when I told her I did not want the gas vouchers I wanted her to return my money that they were not authorized to take out of my account. She hung up on me and I called back and spoke to a man named Amard Smith and he told me that I could not have a refund because I had to ask for a refund within 30 days and I did not. I told him what Ms. Wright said on the phone and also that she was very rude and asked again to speak to a manager.

I told him that I never authorized any money to be taken out of my account and that he should review the recorded phone conversation from 20 April where I clearly stated that I do not authorized any charges and was told that I would not be charged anything.

I would like my money to be returned to my account and this to be marked as a fraudulent charge on my account. I told them that I was going to contact my credit union to dispute the charge and that I was attempting to resolve the matter before I had to do that. They refused to accommodate my request so I am submitting that dispute and will also contact the Better Business Bureau. I am also sending them a copy of this letter.

Thank you for your attention to this matter,

Links for more information:

http://scamvictimsunited.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=1842&start=15&sid=47188139e07cedcdccdbf39181ad9476

- Complaints about a company called Suntasia Marketing (changed name several times also goes by Strategia Marketing LLC. At strategia.com) that has been busted by BBB and Attorney General Flordia for consumer fraudSuntasia is concidently located at 8751 Ulmerton Road, Largo FL 33771-3832 and "Travel Direct" which I believe is one of their many front companys is located at 10500 Ulmerton Rd.-Ste 726-305 Largo, FL 33771

http://www.thelocalbbb.com/alerts/alerts.html?newsid=882&newstype=1

Better Business Bureau Alert

http://www.bbbwestflorida.org/commonreport.html?bid=11002452&language=1

BBB report with long list of company names they have used:

These companies include, but may not be limited to:

1. Agents Travel, 3993 Tyrone Blvd, St Petersburg, FL, (800) 432-6350
2. Distinct Advantage, 10500 Ulmerton Rd Ste 726-302, Largo, FL, (866) 545-5486
3. Florida Passport, 6822 22nd Ave N PMB 432, St Petersburg, FL, (888) 612-2894
4. Floridaway Dream Escape, 2655 Ulmerton Rd Ste 407, Clearwater, FL, (888) 488-8770
5. Freedom Gold, 10500 Ulmerton Rd, Largo, FL, Ste 726-302, (800) 853-0473
6. Prism Communications, 3665 E Bay Dr Ste 201B, Largo, FL, (888) 694-9151
7. Teliflex Communications, 3303 Seffner Dr, Holiday, FL, (866) 821-8674
8. Travel Agents Go Direct, 11125 Park Blvd Ste 104-364, Seminole, FL, (888) 546-8844
9. VersaTalk, 3303 Seffner Dr, Holiday, FL, (877) 494-7363
10. Variety, 13785 Walsingham Rd Ste 113, Largo, 33774, (800) 869-2909
11. Credit Life, 10460 Roosevelt Blvd N Ste 312, Saint Petersburg, FL, (800) 869-2909
12. Freedom Ring, 13799 Park Blvd Ste 312, Seminole, FL 33776, (866) 405-3952


Strategia Marketing's complaint information is as follows:
When considering complaint information, please take into account the company's size and volume of transactions, and understand that the nature of complaints and a firm's responses to them are often more important than the number of complaints.
The Bureau processed a total of 181 complaints about this company in the last 36 months, our standard reporting period. Of the total of 181 complaints closed in 36 months, 55 were closed in the last year.

http://www.ripoffreport.com/searchresults.asp?q1=ALL&q4=&q6=&q3=&q2=&q7=&searchtype=0&submit2=Search%21&q5=Travel+life+go+direct

- List of 12 complaints for Travel Life Go Direct
-------------------

http://groups.google.com/group/misc.consumers/browse_thread/thread/aade819a6bba2105/8aedd694ec3acd82

Sam Sloan
1664 Davidson Ave., Apt. 1B
Bronx NY 10453
samsl...@samsloan.com
June 2, 2007
Citibank
Debit Card Fraud Department
Re: Control No. 71521623158
Dear Sirs:
I am the victim of a fraud. A total of four e-checks totaling $260.85 have been charged to my Citibank account. I have complained to an investigator named John in your frauds department and he told me to write a letter to you with the relevant information.
Each of these e-checks has a number to call for information. I have called all the numbers. The pattern is the same. They will ask that, if you want a free trip to Orlando, Florida, please press 1 and so on
to 9. Finally, I got their customer service person on the line. They said that they had sent me an offer in the mail. When I did not decline the offer within seven business days, they had the right to charge my bank
account. The charges to my account come to a total of $260.85.

I asked them how they got my checking account number so as to be able to charge my account. They told me that they have co-operative arrangements with 50,000 different stores, including Home Depot and Walgreens, where they acquire information about customers in those
stores. They said that if I bought something in one of those stores and paid by check, then the store must have sold my bank account number to them and that this is perfectly legal.

I told them that this is not possible as I almost never write a check and when I buy something in a store I pay by cash or credit card, never by check. The only check I have written in recent years is to the United States Chess Federation and of course they would never sell
my checking account number.

Then they said that I must be buying something by Pay Direct, where an amount is deducted from my bank account. I told them that this is not possible either as I do not have any arrangements to pay for anything
by e-check and I never tell anybody my bank account number.

Here are the details on the four transactions. I demand that you refund my money and that you investigate and catch the culprits and put them in jail. Naturally, I am willing to testify in court.
Company Date Check
Number Amount Telephone number
Travel Life Go Direct 05-04-2007 CHECK No. 9798206 $
1.95 866-558-4013
Florida Way Direct 05-17-2007 CHECK No. 9796885 $
149.00 888-799-1880
Travel Life Go Direct 05-24-2007 CHECK No. 9796041 $
59.95 866-558-4013
Lucid Long Distance 05-31-2007 CHECK No. 9797620 $
49.95 877-470-4631
_________
TOTAL
$ 260.85
Very Truly Yours,
Samuel H. Sloan

Leann
Lusby, Maryland
U.S.A.

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 06/22/2007 10:11 AM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/TRAVEL-LIFE-GO-DIRECT-SUNTASIA-MARKETING/Largo-Florida-33771/TRAVEL-LIFE-GO-DIRECT-SUNTASIA-MARKETING-STOLE-MONEY-OUT-OF-MY-BANK-ACCT-Several-Location-256182. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

Ripoff Report has an exclusive license to this report. It may not be copied without the written permission of Ripoff Report.

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Updates & Rebuttals

#1 UPDATE EX-employee responds

FEDERAL AGENTS RAID STRATEGIA MARKETING AKA SUNTASIA AND SHUT IT DOWN.

AUTHOR: Joe - (U.S.A.)

UPDATE: BREAKING NEWS ! !

For Release: July 25, 2007

FTC Stops Massive, Deceptive Telemarketer

The Federal Trade Commission, with assistance from local police and the United States Postal Inspection Service, today halted the operations of a massive, Largo, Florida-based telemarketing scheme operated by Suntasia Marketing, Inc. The FTC alleges that over the last several years, Suntasia used at least fifteen different business names to defraud consumers across the United States out of tens, and perhaps hundreds, of millions of dollars. According to the FTC, when Suntasia's telemarketers called consumers to offer supposedly free trial memberships in discount buyers and travel clubs, they deceived consumers into divulging their bank account information and later charged consumers without authorization for a series of negative option programs. With a negative option agreement, a company takes a consumer's silence or failure to cancel as acceptance of the offer, and permission to bill them.

The essence of this massive telemarketing scam was simple: trick people into giving out their checking account numbers, send them a brochure on a travel and buyers club, take money out of their bank accounts for as long as possible, and make it very difficult to cancel and get a refund, said C. Steven Baker, Director of the FTC's Midwest Region.

Consumers complained in near-record numbers about Suntasia's practices. In total, the FTC collected and reviewed more than 5,000 formal consumer complaints against Suntasia that were submitted to various law enforcement agencies and the Better Business Bureau.

According to the FTC's complaint, telemarketers typically began their sales pitch by indicating that they were calling in regard to the banking account of their valued customers, to make consumers believe that Suntasia was affiliated with their banks. The telemarketers explained that the consumers had been chosen to receive a series of free gifts, typically a combination of either $100 in gas coupons, $400 in airlines savings vouchers, or two free nights of hotel accommodations. Consumers were told that they could keep these gifts even if they ultimately canceled Suntasia's negative option program. These gifts turned out to be laden with undisclosed conditions and restrictions that rendered them effectively worthless. Also, the FTC alleges that the defendants honored the gift vouchers only if consumers maintained enrollment in their programs, despite the telemarketers' promises.

After offering the free gifts, Suntasia telemarketers quickly attempted to obtain consumers' account numbers. They indicated that they needed to verify this information to confirm consumers' eligibility to receive the gifts. Having already pretended to be affiliated with consumers' banks, the telemarketers now purported to already possess consumers' bank account numbers. They read consumers their publicly available bank routing numbers, and then asked consumers to verify the remainder of the account number from the bottom of a check. According to the FTC, many consumers disclosed their account numbers because they believed they were simply verifying information that the telemarketers already had. The FTC also alleges that consumers frequently thought their account number was being verified solely to confirm their eligibility to receive the free gifts, not to authorize any future charges to their accounts.

According to the FTC's court documents, after consumers divulged their bank account number, the telemarketers quickly began recording a verification, asking consumers to repeat the account number they had just provided. At the end of the recording, Suntasia telemarketers quickly offered consumers two additional negative option programs, commonly referred to as upsells. The FTC alleges, however, that these upsell offers were presented in such a way that consumers did not realize they were being asked to authorize the purchase of additional products and services.

The FTC maintains that Suntasia never disclosed key information about its negative option programs. For instance, the telemarketers did not tell consumers the date that Suntasia's charges would be debited from their accounts, or the telephone numbers consumers must call to cancel to avoid being charged. Nor did Suntasia tell consumers that they would be required to call three separate telephone numbers to cancel the initial program and the two upsells.

If Suntasia telemarketers did discuss the length of the free trial period, they represented that this period would begin only once consumers received program materials in the mail. The FTC alleges that Suntasia actually started consumers' free trial periods on the date of the sales call, however, meaning that consumers often had little, if any, time to cancel Suntasia's programs without being charged. According to the FTC's complaint, some consumers did not receive any program mailings from Suntasia and thus had no opportunity to cancel before they were charged. In many instances, these consumers received their first notice of the trial memberships when the defendants began charging them. In other instances, consumers received the program mailings only a day or two before their accounts were to be charged. Suntasia did not provide any consumers with the free trial period that was promised in their telemarketing calls.
The package consumers received in the mail also disclosed, for the first time, the telephone number that consumers must call to cancel. Prior to receiving this package, consumers had no way to contact Suntasia to cancel or to ask questions. The FTC alleges that in some instances, Suntasia proceeded to charge the accounts of even those consumers who canceled its programs. In addition, if consumers successfully canceled one program, they were not told that they still may be charged for two other programs, or that they must call different telephone numbers to cancel each of those programs.

The FTC alleges that the defendants misrepresented their affiliation with consumers' banks or other third parties, that they already had consumers' account numbers, the starting point and length of the free trial period, that they would honor consumers' cancellation requests, that consumers may easily cancel their participation in a program, and that consumers are entitled to keep and to use the promised free gifts even if they ultimately cancel the negative option program. The FTC also alleges that the defendants failed to disclose, or to disclose adequately, the following: that the consumer's account would be charged unless the consumer takes affirmative action to avoid the charge, that consumer's checking account information would be used to debit their bank accounts, the cost of the programs, the dates the consumers' account would be charged, the dates that the trial period begins and ends, the specific steps consumers must take in order to cancel, including that consumers must cancel each of the programs by calling a separate telephone number, and the conditions and restrictions on the free gift vouchers that severely limit their value and usefulness.

The FTC also alleges that the defendants debited funds from consumers' accounts without their express verifiable authorization and express informed consent, and that they did not clearly and conspicuously disclose that the purpose of their call was to sell goods or services and the nature of those goods or services, as required by the Telemarketing Sales Rule. The defendants also allegedly illegally purchased leads containing consumers' unencrypted bank account numbers for use in telemarketing.

At the FTC's request, a U.S. district court in Tampa has entered a temporary restraining order that temporarily halts the allegedly deceptive scheme, freezes the assets of all defendants, and appoints a temporary receiver over the scheme's corporate participants. According to the FTC, the scheme is run by nine interrelated companies that employ more than 700 people. The defendants charged are: FTN Promotions, Inc., doing business as Suntasia Inc., Suntasia Marketing, Inc., and Capital Vacations; Guardian Marketing Services Corp, doing business as Guardian Escrow Service; Strategia Marketing, LLC; Co-Compliance, LLC; JPW Consultants, Inc., doing business as Freedom Gold, Variety!, Credit Life, and Freedom Ring ULD; Travel Agents Direct, LLC, doing business as Travel Agents Go Direct, Florida Direct, and Lucid Long Distance; Agent's Travel Network, Inc., doing business as Florida Passport; Bay Pines Travel, Inc.; Suntasia Properties, Inc.; Byron W. Wolf; Roy A. Eliasson; Alfred H. Wolf; Donald L. Booth; Jeffrey P. Wolf; and John Louis Smith II.

The FTC received invaluable assistance in this matter from the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Largo, Florida Police Department, the Better Business Bureau of West Florida, Inc., and the Pinellas County Department of Justice and Consumer Services.
The Commission vote to authorize staff to file the complaint was 5-0. The complaint and temporary restraining order were filed under seal in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, with the seal lifting today.

NOTE: The Commission files a complaint when it has reason to believe that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. The complaint is not a finding or ruling that the defendant has actually violated the law. The case will be decided by the court.

The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, click http://www.ftc.gov/ftc/complaint.shtm or call 1-877-382-4357. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,600 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. For free information on a variety of consumer topics, click http://ftc.gov/bcp/consumer.shtm.
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#2 UPDATE EX-employee responds

Closed FTC

AUTHOR: Qwertyuiop - (U.S.A.)

I applied here and then declined the job after READING YOUR REPORTS !
THANKS A MILLION. hope you folks get your money


LARGO (Bay News 9) -- Federal investigators say a nationwide telemarketing scam based in Largo defrauded victims out of millions of dollars.

Investigators said the telemarketing company, Suntasia, operated under more than a dozen different names for the past several years.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, Suntasia telemarketers cold-called consumers with offers of free trial memberships for buyers' and travel clubs. They would then get checking account information and charge the consumers monthly fees. If the consumers didn't call to cancel, the company would take the money out of their checking account, which is called a negative option.

E-mail The TV Reporter
Carol Minn

"I have been doing consumer fraud cases for the Federal Trade Commission for 25 years, said Steven Baker from the FTC. "And I believe this may well be the biggest telemarketing fraud I've ever seen."

Baker said the company would make it difficult to cancel and get a refund. Investigators say tens of millions of victims were defrauded.

The FTC has placed a restraining order on Suntasia and its six owners. If any criminal charges are filed, those charges would have to come from a a state or federal law enforcement agency.

Suntasia operated out of at least 15 different locations in Pinellas County with more than 800 employees.

The Largo Police Department and the United States Postal Service assisted in the investigation.
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#3 UPDATE EX-employee responds

Another Alert On Suntasia/Strategia Promotions

AUTHOR: Joe - (U.S.A.)

THIS IS A BBB NEWS RELEASE ON VARIETY!, A PROGRAM PROMOTED BY STRATEGIA MARKETING(FORMERLY KNOWN AS SUNTASIA) !

Variety's Telemarketing Tactics Deceptive And Questionable
Caller ID Displays 727-252-0434, Toll-Free 877-777-2709

Spokane, WA- May 24, 2007 - Variety is targeting our region with telemarketing calls that are raising red flags which include the quoting of sensitive personal info BEFORE you even give it to them!

Variety has the following contact info:

13785 Walsingham Road, Suite 113 , Largo , FL, 33774-3221, phone (800) 869-2909 (plus a slew of other 800#s), web site: http://www.myvarietyclub.com/

This company has an unsatisfactory record with the West Florida BBB due to a pattern of complaints and has failed to correct the underlying reason for the complaints. Complaints mostly concern sales practice issues.

A regional consumer called to report that she received a call from Variety stating that she was on a "special list" and was "chosen" to receive a variety of coupons and other free offers, but they first required her social security number as well as her check numbers. The consumer refused to give this sensitive information to a cold caller.

The number that showed up on her Caller ID was: 727-252-0434.

When the BBB researched this number at: bbb.org we came up with a report for as well as a report for Travel Agents Go Direct with the following contact info:

11125 Park Blvd., Suite 104 - 364, Seminole , FL , 33772-4757 , phone (888) 546- 8844, web site: http://www.travelagentsgodirect.com/

This company has an unsatisfactory record with the West Florida BBB due to failure to respond to one or more complaints and two or more unresolved complaints. However, the business has resolved most complaints presented by the BBB. As of the date of this release, this company has had 259 complaints in the last three-year reporting period. Complaints mostly concern billing, sales and refund issues.

The BBB did further research regarding this number by surfing online, and came up with a variety of blog sites that relayed such things about the 727-252-0434 number as:

1. "Called me today on my cell phone and said I am eligible for $100 in gas coupons. They asked to confirm my name and address, and then asked for my bank name and account number. The lady who talked to me called her supervisor, and her supervisor talked to me because I refused to give my bank info. I finally got tired of playing along, and hung up.

2. "I received an enormous amount of calls from Variety to my pre-paid cell phone. They wanted my personal information including my bank account numbers, home address and my SSN."

3. "Told me i earned 100$ in free gas vouchers for good banking account usage. Wanted the bank I used. Wouldn't give it to him. Tried to keep me on the phone and convince me he was trying to verify information. Didn't fall for it and hung up!"

4. "I recieved an obsessive amount of calls on my cell phone from Variety wanting personal information including my bank account numbers, home address and birth city. I urge you all to report this to the FCC at: fccinfo@fcc.gov."

TIPS

1. Gain as much information on the company you are speaking to as possible before you confirm or verify ANY personal info. If the caller hesitates or refuses to answer your questions, promptly end the call by telling them to take you off their list or you will report them to the FTC and hang up.

2. If the calls become harassment, then report them to the FCC, as well.

3. Whenever your personal information is quoted back to you by someone you don't know, hang up ASAP and contact the appropriate bank or credit card company(ies) and report that your personal info was quoted to you by a stranger. Request that no unauthorized charges go through without your permission. Then----

4. Check ALL bank and credit card statements regularly. In fact, make this a habit. If any questionable or unauthorized transactions are present, you can be pro- active ASAP.

5. Check the company out with the BBB FIRST before agreeing to anything via a cold call. If you have an unresolved issue concerning this or other companies, file formal complaints with your local BBB for resolve!

END OF ALERT !

If you want to see the warning for yourself then copy and paste below.

http://www.spokane.net/stay_connecte....aspx?prid=699
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#4 Consumer Comment

Florida Travel Enterprises

AUTHOR: Joe - (U.S.A.)

I just wanted to warn people that Suntasia/Stratgia has added another name to their long list of ripoff companies : Florida Travel Enterprises Beware
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