The two brothers mailed out millions of letters telling vehicle owners that their factory warranties were about to expire and promised to extend those warranties.
But the service contracts they sold were basically worthless and the promised “bumper to bumper” coverage was actually worth very little, if anything at all. They were also deceitful, as they illegally used the names and logos of major car companies, including Toyota and BMW among others.
U.S. Fidelis was actually not even backing the contracts themselves, but were buying them from other businesses and marking them up to U.S. consumers.
The company also made it very difficult for consumers to cancel the contracts, though they had this right under federal law.
Better Business Bureau in St. Louis, MO received over 1,100 complaints against the business and the company had an F rating.
BBB played a major role when it presented its findings on the company to local and national media, which picked up the story and attracted federal law enforcement attention from the FBI and, eventually, the Internal Revenue Service.
The company was found to have complaints with Attorneys General in 42 states, including Louisiana, for its activities.
After NBC picked up the story from BBB and ran it nationally, the company went bankrupt several months later and its owners faced numerous federal charges.
The Atkins brothers found guilty of tax evasion and stealing millions of dollars from American consumers, among other crimes and both received federal prison terms.