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FTC Curbs International Driver's Licenses Site

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has curbed two companies for fraudulently marketing purportedly authentic International Driver's Permits (IDPs) on the Internet. Under the terms of the proposed settlement the defendants are prohibited from future marketing of any IDPs or identification documents.

In January, the FTC filed a complaint against Jaguar Business Concepts (d.b.a. Libertymall.com), its general partner, Cheyenne Investment Alliance 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.

According to information posted on the site at the time, the IDPs would insulate buyers from sanctions for traffic violations and could also serve as a genuine government photo identification. The defendants charged $65 for each IDP.

The FTC said authentic the IDPs, which are available in the U.S. from only two authorized agencies, the American Automobile Association and the American Automobile Touring Alliance are available for $10 each and have a very limited use and purpose.

According to the FTC, the IDPs are "worthless documents" pitched to immigrants and other consumers who were seeking an alternative to a government-issued driver's license or identification document.

"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. "Were committed to putting the brakes on companies that make these deceptive claims."

In January, the FTC filed six complaints in federal district courts against Internet and e-mail operators who hawk IDPs on the Internet as part of "Operation License for Trouble," a national law enforcement sweep charging companies with scamming innocent consumers 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 the defendants' ill-gotten gains.

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. The settlement also contains recordkeeping provisions to assist the FTC in monitoring the defendants' compliance.

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.