FTC Gives Nod To BBB For Helping It Solve Advanced-Fee Scam Operated By Recidivist Offender; James Nicholson Banned For Life From Telemarketing, Hit With $17.2 Million Judgment, Loses Power Boat

A Florida man who operated a previous scam has been banned for life from the telemarketing business after state and federal authorities and the Better Business Bureau worked together to expose the operation, the Federal Trade Commission said.

“The FTC received invaluable assistance in this matter from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the University of Central Florida Police Department, Largo Police Department, and the Better Business Bureau of West Florida, Inc.,” the FTC said.

James Nicholson, who operated a company known as Group One Network and offered a “Credit Line Gold Card,” was sued by the FTC amid allegations the company charged an up-front fee for a “supposed, general-use credit card,” the agency said.

The card scored an “F” from the BBB — the organization’s lowest-possible rating on a 14-step scale.

It turned out that the card was no general-use card at all; rather, it was a card that only permitted customers to spend money at websites associated with Nicholson.

“Telemarketers working for Nicholson’s chief company, Group One Network, also claimed that consumers would get access to a significant line of credit that could be used for cash advances, and that their payment histories would be reported to the three major credit bureaus,” the FTC said. “In reality, consumers who paid the fee received an online shopping card they could only use to buy products from Group One’s Web sites, they could not get cash advances, and their credit histories were never reported to the credit bureaus.”

Nicholson also participated in a bogus “advance-fee interest-rate reduction/debt negotiation program,” the FTC said.

His recent run-in with law enforcement was not his first. In 1995, Nicholson pleaded guilty to wire fraud in a telemarketing scheme.

Nicholson now has been banned for life from telemarketing. In a settlement with the FTC, Nicholson gave up a 31-foot power boat, a Nissan Pathfinder, and jewelry and art valued at more than $10,000. He also is on the receiving end of a judgment for $17.2 million, which has been suspended because Nicholson and co-defendants are unable to pay.

See the “F” rating of the Credit Line Gold Card at the BBB website.

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