Two groups of student loan debt relief scammers will be permanently banned from the debt relief industry and are required to turn over their assets as part of a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission.
In the FTC’s May 2023 complaints against SL Finance LLC and its owners Michael Castillo and Christian Castillo, and BCO Consulting Services Inc. and SLA Consulting Services Inc. and their owners Gianni Olilang, Brandon Clores, Kishan Bhakta, and Allan Radam, the agency said that the defendants pretended to be affiliated with the U.S. Department of Education, charged illegal junk fees, and lured students with repayment programs and loan forgiveness that did not exist.
The SL Finance defendants also falsely claimed that their program was part of the CARES Act or a similar COVID-19 relief program, according to the complaint. The agency charged that these operations bilked students out of millions of dollars.
Under the proposed orders with SL Finance, its owners, and BCO Consulting and its owners, the defendants will be permanently banned from debt relief of any kind. They will also be banned from making any misrepresentations about financial products or services and from using false statements to collect consumers’ financial information. The SL Finance order also imposes a partially suspended monetary judgment of $5.8 million which is largely suspended based on defendants’ inability to pay. The Castillo brothers will be required to surrender assets worth approximately $312,685. The BCO Consulting orders imposes a partially suspended monetary judgment of $5.8 million, which is also largely suspended based on the defendants’ inability to pay. Individual defendants Olilang, Clores, Bhakta, and Radam will be required to relinquish assets worth approximately $565,594.
If any of the defendants are found to have materially misrepresented their finances, the full amount of the monetary judgment would become immediately due from that defendant.
The Commission votes approving the stipulated final orders were 3-0. The FTC filed the proposed orders in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
NOTE: Stipulated final orders have the force of law when approved and signed by the District Court judge.
The lead staff attorneys on this matter are Katherine Aizpuru and Samuel Jacobson of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.