Attorney General Ellison shuts down another fraudulent student-loan debt-relief company in Minnesota
California-based company offering fraudulent ‘forgiveness’ scheme will pay State over $59K to refund Minnesota customers
Attorney General Ellison’s office has recovered over $1.5 million total from scam student-loan debt-relief companies
November 8, 2023 (SAINT PAUL) — Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced today that his office has obtained a settlement with Network 46, a California student-loan debt-relief company that illegally collected fees from customers and misrepresented its services to consumers. The settlement requires Network 46 to cease operating in Minnesota and provide full refunds to its Minnesota consumers. As a result of the Attorney General’s investigation, Network 46 has ceased operating nationwide.
The Attorney General alleges that Network 46 pocketed steep fees to enroll consumers in federal repayment programs that consumers can enroll themselves in for free. It also charged these fees before performing the promised services, which is illegal under Minnesota law regulating debt settlement services.
Network 46 is also alleged to have misrepresented its services related to student-loan forgiveness, when only the federal government can forgive federal student loans. Additionally, Network 46 was operating without registering as a debt-settlement service provider, as required by Minnesota law. Network 46, based out of Orange County, California, is one of the 52 student-loan debt-relief companies that's being investigated by Attorney General Ellison for suspected violations of Minnesota law.
The settlement, filed in Ramsey County District Court, requires Network 46 to pay the State $59,909.00 — the full amount it has collected from Minnesota customers — which the Attorney General’s Office will use to provide full restitution to consumers. Attorney General Ellison’s Office alleges in the settlement that Network 46 violated Minnesota’s Debt Services Settlement Act, Prevention of Consumer Fraud Act, and Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
“Taking advantage of people struggling with their student loans is as low as it gets. It’s a relief to know that Network 46 will no longer be able to cheat borrowers,” Attorney General Ellison said. “I am glad that the terms of this settlement include paying back every cent this company scammed out of folks who were just trying to afford their lives. To any Minnesotan that has been ripped off by Network 46 or other scam debt-relief companies, I encourage you to contact my office so we can hold them accountable.”
Student-loan debt-relief companies often charge consumers hundreds or thousands of dollars of illegal upfront fees to enroll them in repayment plans or consolidation loans—which are sometimes unnecessary or inappropriate for the consumers—that all eligible federal student-loan borrowers can apply for on their own for free through the United States Department of Education. Often, these companies deceive consumers into believing that the fees will go toward paying down the consumers’ student-loan debt, when the companies actually pocket the fees.
This settlement marks the fifteenth time the Minnesota Attorney General’s office has shut down a fraudulent student-loan debt-relief company in Minnesota, following others in April 2016, July 2016, October 2016, February 2018, September 2019, October 2019, April 2020, September 2020, January 2021, April 2021, October 2022, November 2022, February 2023, and October 2023. In total, the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office has recovered over $1.5 million to return to Minnesota consumers victimized by fraudulent student loan debt settlement companies.
Attorney General Ellison encourages anyone who has been victimized by Network 46 to contact the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office by calling (651) 296-3353 (Metro area) or (800) 657-3787 (Greater Minnesota), or by submitting a complaint form on the Attorney General’s website at www.ag.state.mn.us/Office/Complaint.asp.
The Attorney General’s Office encourages borrowers to visit its website for additional information on how to avoid student-loan scams, including a publication entitled Student Loan Assistance Companies that Charge High Fees for What You Can Do for Free. Student-loan borrowers may access the United States Department of Education’s website — https://studentaid.gov/manage-loans/repayment/plans — for additional information about federal student-loan repayment programs available to all eligible borrowers for free.