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FTC sending about $1.7M in refund checks

NEW YORK (AP) -- The Federal Trade Commission is sending out about $1.7 million in refund checks to consumers who lost money to a group that claimed it could help people get free government grant money.

The FTC said Thursday that the website operators sold products online such as Grant Connect and tried to give the impression that they were affiliated with the U.S. government by using images of President Barack Obama and the American flag, while it was not connected to the government at all.

The FTC settled with four defendants and won summary judgment against the remaining 25 individual and corporate defendants. The settlement and summary judgment ban the defendants from selling grant-related products, among other things. They are also banned from selling products or services with an automatically recurring fee.

The refund amounts being given to 22,764 consumers will vary based on how much money they lost. Most consumers will recover almost 80 percent of their total loss.

Consumers who have questions about the refund program or whether they qualify can call the FTC's refund administrator, Gilardi & Co., at 1-877-230-7552.