Two companies settled FTC charges today that they fraudulently marketed purportedly authentic International Driver’s Permits (IDPs) on the Internet. Under the terms of the settlement, the defendants are prohibited from future marketing of any IDPs or identification documents.
In January 2003, the FTC filed a complaint against Jaguar Business Concepts, L.P. (d.b.a. Libertymall.com), its general partner, Cheyenne Investment Alliance, L.L.C., and Cheyenne’s member/manager, Jacqueline A. Demer. The suit alleged that the defendants deceptively claimed that consumers could use the phony IDPs they marketed on their Web site to drive legally in the United States, to insulate them from sanctions for traffic violations, and as a government photo identification. The defendants charged $65 for each IDP. The FTC’s complaint was part of “Operation License for Trouble,” a law enforcement sweep of six cases filed nationwide charging firms with scamming innocent consumers out of hundreds of dollars. The FTC argued that the defendants’ unlawful action placed unwitting purchasers at risk of legal sanction or arrest if they are caught driving without a license or presenting false identification, and placed the public at risk of injury by encouraging unlicensed drivers to take to the roads. The FTC’s suit sought a permanent injunction and consumer redress or disgorgement of defendants’ ill-gotten gains.
“These so-called international driver’s licenses don’t give you the legal right to drive, won’t help you remove points from your license, and aren’t an official government ID,” said Howard Beales, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “We’re committed to putting the brakes on companies that make these deceptive claims.”
Authentic IDPs enable a person with a valid driver’s license to drive in foreign countries that have signed the 1949 United Nations Road Traffic Convention. The IDP is a simple booklet that translates a consumer’s government-issued driver’s license into different languages; it is not a substitute for a valid, government-issued license. It cannot be used in place of a suspended or revoked license or as a government-issued identification card. Further, it will not protect consumers from traffic tickets or “points.” In the United States, legitimate IDPs cost $10 each, and can only be obtained from the American Automobile Association and the American Automobile Touring Alliance.
The proposed settlement permanently bars Jaguar and Cheyenne from promoting or selling fraudulent IDPs or any type of bogus identification document, and from misrepresenting the uses and benefits of IDPs and other identification documents. The FTC has the right to reopen the case if the financial information Jaguar and Cheyenne submitted is found to be untruthful. Finally, the settlement contains recordkeeping provisions to assist the FTC in monitoring the defendants’ compliance.
The Commission vote to approve the settlement was 5-0. The settlement and order is subject to approval by the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Northern Division. On July 18, 2003, the court entered a default judgment and an order for a permanent injunction as to defendant Jacqueline A. Demer.
NOTE: The stipulated orders are for settlement purposes only and do not constitute an admission by the defendants of a law violation. Stipulated final judgments and orders have the force of law when signed by a judge.
Copies of the complaint and other related documents pertaining to Libertymall.com are available from the FTC’s Web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580. The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint, or to get free information on any of 150 consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1 877-382-4357), or use the complaint form at http://www.ftc.gov . The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.