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First National Bank of Ohama Ends NRA Branded Credit Card

Polipace Staff

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First National Bank of Omaha, a major issuer nationally of credit cards, said Thursday it would end its relationship with the National Rifle Association.

The bank issues NRA-branded cards as part of its business that brands First National cards with organizations’ logos, like Visa cards issued under the Scheels, Chrysler and Best Western brands.

So a Best Western Rewards MasterCard, for instance, is actually issued by First National of Omaha; same goes with the NRA Visa Personal Credit Card.

The bank wouldn’t disclose details about its relationship with the NRA, including for how long it’s been established, what financial terms exist or the number of NRA-branded cardholders.

First National spokesman Kevin Langin said “customer feedback” caused the bank to review its dealings with the NRA. The bank is “not going to renew the contract” when it comes to co-branded NRA cards, Langin said. He wouldn’t say when the contract expired.

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Crime

AG Whitaker Alleged to Have Served on Board of WPM

Polipace Staff

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The FBI is reportedly conducting a criminal investigation related to World Patent Marketing, a company that was shut down in 2017 after the Federal Trade Commission alleged that it operating “an invention-promotion scam” that tricked “thousands of consumers out of millions of dollars.”  According to recent reports, new acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker served on its advisory board.

Alleged WPM Conduct

In 2017, the Federal Trade Commission charged the operators of an invention-promotion scam, World Patent Marketing, with deceiving consumers and suppressing complaints about the company by using threats of criminal prosecution against dissatisfied customers.  At the FTC’s request, a federal court temporarily halted the Florida-based scheme and froze its assets pending litigation.

“This case is about protecting innovators, the engine of a thriving economy,” said then Acting FTC Chairman Maureen K. Ohlhausen.  “The defendants promised to promote people’s inventions and took thousands of dollars, but provided almost no service in return.  Then they added insult to injury by threatening people who complained.”

According to the FTC, consumers paid an individual and various corporate entities thousands of dollars to patent and market their inventions based on bogus “success stories” and testimonials promoted by the defendants.  But after they allegedly strung consumers along for months or even years, the defendants purportedly failed to deliver what they promised.  Instead, many customers allegedly ended up in debt or lost their life savings with nothing to show for it.

WPM Threats of Legal Action

The FTC also alleged that the defendants used various unfair tactics, including threats of legal action, to discourage consumers from publishing truthful or non-defamatory negative reviews about the defendants and their services.  According to FTC attorney Richard B. Newman, the agency reported that one customer who sought a refund and filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau allegedly received a letter from the defendants’ lawyer.  According to the FTC, the letter stated that seeking a refund was extortion under Florida law and, “since you used email to make your threats, you would be subject to a federal extortion charge, which carries a term of imprisonment of up to two years and potential criminal fines.”

WPM Settlement Order

In 2018, the defendants agreed to a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission that bans them from the invention promotion business.  Under the settlement order, the defendants are also banned from  misrepresenting any good or service, and suppressing the availability of truthful negative comments or reviews by consumers.  They are also prohibited from profiting from consumers’ personal information collected as part of the challenged practices, and failing to dispose of it properly.

A $25,987,192 judgment was imposed, which was partially suspended when $78,670 in frozen funds were transferred to the Commission and the individual defendant Cooper paid $976,330.

Whitaker’s Alleged Involvement

According to media reports, court filings indicate that Whitaker received regular payments of $1,875 from the company while serving as a member of its advisory board.  It has also been reported that Whitaker sent a strongly worded email to a former customer in 2015 that had complained about the company.  Whitaker is not a named as a defendant in the case against the company.

In a statement, a Justice Department spokeswoman said, “Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker has said he was not aware of any fraudulent activity. Any stories suggesting otherwise are false.”  In fact,   FTC investigators did not obtain evidence or internal communications showing Whitaker knew about the company’s alleged bogus promises, according to those with firsthand knowledge of the matter.  The  receiver that oversaw the settlement confirmed, recently stating to The Washington Post that he has “no reason to believe that [Whitaker] knew of any of the wrongdoing.”

Richard B. Newman is an FTC defense lawyer at Hinch Newman.  Follow him on Twitter @ FTCLawDefense.

Attorney Advertising. These materials are provided for informational purposes only and are not to be considered legal advice, nor do they create a lawyer-client relationship. . Information on previous case results does not guarantee a similar future result. Hinch Newman LLP | 40 Wall St., 35thFloor, New York, NY 10005 | (212) 756-8777

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Crime

Bar Shooting Survivors Also Survived Vegas Route 91 Shooting

Polipace Staff

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One group of people at a Southern California bar where a gunman killed 12 people Wednesday night revealed it was their second narrow escape from a mass shooting. One man said he and others inside the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks also survived the shooting that killed 58 people and injured nearly 500 others at a country music concert in Las Vegas last October.

Nicholas Champion said he and many others in the bar were also at the Las Vegas Route 91 shooting.

“It’s the second time in about a year and a month that this has happened,” he said. “It’s a big thing for us. We’re all a big family and unfortunately this family got hit twice.”

More than 100 people were inside the bar during the shooting, including many college students who were there to celebrate “College Country Night.”

Police said they found the shooter dead inside, possibly from a self-inflicted wound. Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean told reporters early Thursday, “It’s a horrific scene in there. There’s blood everywhere.”

Among the victims is 29-year veteran deputy Ron Helus. Helus was among the first responders and was shot while entering the building where the shooting was taking place. He died at the hospital Thursday morning.

So far, there is no known motive for the attack.

(CBS NEWS)

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Crime

California Gunman Identified as 28-Year Old Mentally Ill Former Marine

Polipace Staff

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The gunman who killed 12 people at a bar holding a student night has been named as former Marine and PTSD-sufferer Ian David Long

The 28-year-old former Marine had several prior contacts with authorities, including during an incident in April when he was reportedly acting erratically. Mental health experts were dispatched at that time but cleared him, investigators say.

Authorities are working on getting a search warrant for his home in Newbury Park. They are also working to determine if he was living with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

On Wednesday night, Long drove his mom’s vehicle to the bar, according to the Los Angeles Times.

He was reportedly hooded and dressed entirely in black.

Authorities say he used a .45-caliber Glock 21 handgun during the bar attack. The weapon was purchased legally despite a background of mental illness. Investigators say it had an extended chamber to hold more rounds.

Long’s body was found inside an office next to the bar entrance.

Hundreds of people ran from the building. Some even broke windows and jumped out to escape the massacre.

Twelve victims, including a sheriff’s deputy, are confirmed dead. The gunman is also dead.

The fallen law enforcement officer, who was killed while trying to stop the shooter, has been identified as Sgt. Ron Helus of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office.

As of late Thursday morning, investigators believe the shooting was a random attack.

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