back to article US Supreme Court puts a stop to FTC extracting big bucks from crooks to refund victims

The US government's consumer watchdog cannot force scammers to return the money they cheated out of their victims, the Supreme Court declared unanimously this week. All nine justices on America’s highest court ruled [PDF] against the Federal Trade Commission on Thursday and, instead, sided with payday loan firm AMG Capital …

  1. tfewster

    How strange

    The DOJ could have confiscated the proceeds of the crimes the perps were convicted of. Else the victims would have had to sue individually to get their money back.

    Surely it's better for the FTC to sue as a "class action" on behalf of consumers?

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: How strange

      Only if it has the legal right to do that. It appears that it doesn't. The remedy lies with the legislators.

  2. Anonymous Coward


    I have no idea what the legal meaning is but it about sums up my reaction.

    Unfortunately I can't fault the Court's ruling on the law.

    More unfortunately I assume corporate money and lobbying will insure that the law is not corrected.

    1. don't you hate it when you lose your account

      Re: disgorgement

      lobbying has just become crooks in suits. Not only a us problem but a fundamental moral problem. We humans really can be shits.

      1. Blackjack Silver badge

        Re: disgorgement

        When has lobbying not been that? There is a reason other countries consider it illegal and you get jail time for it.

      2. Schultz

        "lobbying has just become crooks in suits"

        I don't think that statement is fair. There is need for those affected by proposed laws to be heard - you can't expect the lawmakers to be specialists in all fields and having the interested parties involved in the discussions can be important.

        There is a big problem because in certain places, lobbyists can buy access. This distorts the discussion, favoring vested interests. I'd argue the that the problem is private/corporate money financing politics, not the presence of lobbyists offering their expertise.

    2. Dimmer

      Re: disgorgement

      Agreed as well. It is congress that makes the laws, it is the court that supposed to decide if the law was applied correctly regardless if it is fair or not. The gov does not want to share any of the fines, taxes, licenses or any other name for that income.

      Take for instance the "affordable care act". It would only work if the government was able to fine and collect from anyone that decided not to join. Obviously it is against the constitution to force anyone to pay a private entity just because you exist. So, they called it a tax (payable to the insurance corp) and a fine (to the government) if you did not pay. I am not stating anything about the act as I know folks that have been hurt and helped by it just that a fine is another way to bleed the people. The scum, as in this case should lose everything and work as slaves till they pay back every penny to the PEOPLE that they cheated. We have already paid the government via taxes to create and enforce laws that protect its citizens.

      I am not anti government, just anti bureaucracy.

  3. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Yet US police can seize everything even remotely related to what they say was a crime being committed. No oversight or proof is necessary. They can even interfere with the process to recover it if they choose.

  4. LDS Silver badge

    Amendment Zero

    Be careful to break Amendment Zero in US ("whatever makes rich people richer is always legal") you would not be pardoned. Unless of course you hit those rich people. Madoff died in jail - to remember them you don't steal money from the rich. Those who sent the world into the worst recession by exploiting people who couldn't pay a mortgage won't. This guy too will be out in less than his 18 years - and you wonder how a company run by convicted crooks could bring a suit up to the Supreme Court to keep the money they stole - where the money came from?

    1. Boo Radley

      Re: Amendment Zero

      Yes, he will be out in less than 18 years, but not much less than 18, as federal prisoners must serve 85% of their sentence before release. The 15% they can get off their sentences for good time, if they behave themselves.

  5. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

    It's worth reading the Scotus blog summary. Roughly speaking, the FTC are using powers set up for temporary injunction to get permanent restitution. They actually have the powers to get permanent restitution, but it's a more cumbersome process.

  6. HellDeskJockey-ret

    In the USA a court can order restitution as part of the sentencing. Perhaps a better question is why didn't the prosecutors ask the judge to do so.

  7. A.P. Veening Silver badge

    I see nine persons who really need to become the victim of a good scam.

  8. Claptrap314 Silver badge

    Modest proposal

    How about we get both parties to support a bill to change this?

    Nah, never happen. Nevermind.

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