ElitePay Global’s grade has been lowered to an “F” following egregious unethical behavior towards CPO and a recent surge of serious merchant complaints against the company. If you have experienced deceptive business practices by ElitePay Global, see these instructions on how to report the company to the proper authorities.
***Business Name Update***
The ElitePay Global website (elitepayglobal.com) is no longer active. There is no information on the company’s website directing visitors to a different brand name.
A commenter has stated in the comment section below this review that ElitePay Global is now also operating under the name of “Ironwood.” After conducting our own independent research, we have found evidence that supports this commenter’s claim. Our research also indicates that the full name of the company may be “Ironwood Payments” or “Ironwood Financial,” and it may be based out of Naperville, Illinois, incorporated in Mississippi, and operating its principal office located Providence, Utah. The registering agent appears to be a corporate service company based in Henderson, Nevada. See our recently published Ironwood Payments Review for the most recent information. If you have any information about Ironwood Payments, or if you know of any other alternate business names used by ElitePay Global or its founders, please share that information in the comment section below this review.
Another commenter has claimed that ElitePay Global’s founders have also launched a company called “One For Merchants.” As with Ironwood Payments, we have investigated the commenter’s claims and have found a great deal of evidence to support them. See our One For Merchants review for the latest updates regarding the company, and if you have any details to add, please share them here or in the comment section of that review.
ElitePay Global and Ironwood Payments
On October 14, 2016, International Payment Services (the parent company of ElitePay Global) filed a complaint against Ironwood Payments in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas. The complaint states that, following the sale of substantially all of International Payment Services’s assets to Ironwood in July 2015, Ironwood was to pay International Payment Services an initial closing payment followed by two later payments contingent upon the continued successful operation of the business. According to the complaint, Ironwood refused to make the second contingent payment of approximately $4 million in September 2016. More pertinent to this review, however, is the fact that the complaint also states that “until recently the parties enjoyed a positive and cooperative working relationship. For example, Ironwood retained two of IPS’s principals as employees and consultants following the [purchase agreement]. Although it limited their operational role, until early 2016 it regularly provided them with updates and sought their input on various issues, and the parties worked well together.” The complaint goes on to say that “In March 2016, around the time it ceased regularly communicating with IPS, Ironwood abruptly stopped providing customer service on the entire portfolio of accounts it had agreed to service until May 2016, including its own accounts.” In our opinion, the information contained in this complaint confirms ongoing collaboration between the principals of ElitePay Global and the owners of Ironwood until at least early 2016 and indicates that a financial relationship persisted between the two companies after the initial sale of assets in July 2015. It also reveals that Ironwood simply stopped providing customer service to a portion of its portfolio in March 2016.
In July 2016, a class action lawsuit was filed in the state of Illinois on behalf of California business owners against Ironwood Financial and Vantiv. The lawsuit claims that Ironwood sales representatives recorded sales calls regarding sensitive financial information without merchants’ permission. According to the October action brought against Ironwood by International Payment Services, this complaint was voluntarily dismissed in early September and not refiled.
However, in December 2016, another class action lawsuit was filed against Ironwood Financial in Illinois Northern District Court. Like the previous lawsuit, this complaint accuses Ironwood of secretly recording phone calls in which merchants disclosed sensitive financial information, and it also names Andy Bentley, Brian Bentley, Adam Bentley, Fifth Third Bank, First Data, Vantiv, Wells Fargo, and International Payment Services as defendants. The plaintiffs are seeking $5,000 per violation plus attorney fees. The lawsuit’s case number is 1:16-cv-11223, and it can also be found under searches for “Wang et al v. Wells Fargo, NA et al.”
ElitePay Global, formerly known as PrimePay Global and also known as International Payment Services, LLC, is a merchant account provider headquartered in Henderson, Nevada. ElitePay Global no longer sells under the name of PrimePay Global and should not be confused with PrimePay, an unrelated merchant services company. In fact, International Payment Services was sued by PrimePay for trademark infringement in 2012 and lost, resulting in the switch to the ElitePay Global name. ElitePay Global resells the payment processing services of First Data. Founded in 2005, ElitePay Global is a registered ISO/MSP of Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., in Walnut Creek, California, and lists its headquarters as 2850 W Horizon Ridge Pkwy Ste 200, Henderson, Nevada 89052-4395. Although the company is incorporated in Nevada and lists a Nevada headquarters, its owners primarily reside in and operate out of Salt Lake City, Utah, and surrounding communities.
ElitePay Global Management Concerns
According to public records, Brian Bentley is the principal of International Payment Services (and, by extension, ElitePay Global). However, Brian Bentley’s three brothers also work for the company or hold prominent leadership positions at ElitePay Global. According to a former employee of ElitePay Global who commented beneath this review, Andrew Bentley acts as the president of sales at ElitePay Global, while Matt and Adam Bentley serve in lesser management roles.
Official Idaho court documents and multiple news sources name Adam Bentley as a defendant in a 2009 civil action filed by the state of Idaho regarding a multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme conducted in 2007. These sources state that Adam Bentley was found by the state of Idaho to have violated the registration and anti-fraud provisions of Idaho’s Uniform Securities Act by selling insurance investments without a license. Bentley and his co-defendants were also shown to have made fraudulent presentations to their investors in order to obtain funding. Following its investigation, the state of Idaho ordered Bentley to pay a civil penalty of $200,000 and restitution to his investors totaling $5,373,464. More significantly, he was also permanently prohibited from selling securities in the state of Idaho. Although these circumstances raise serious questions regarding Adam Bentley’s character, the judgment does not appear to have affected his ability to gain a management role with a merchant services company – a role that grants him access to sensitive data including processing volumes, account numbers, and social security numbers of business owners. Brian Bentley appears to believe his brother deserves such a role with ElitePay Global despite knowing of his less-than-ethical history, which, in this author’s opinion, reveals much about his character as well.
Attempt to Suppress Critical Reviews
Without any prior communications or use of our dispute resolution channels, in April 2014, ElitePay Global filed a trademark infringement lawsuit in federal court against this website (CardPaymentOptions.com). The official claims in the case were related to the use of the ElitePay Global name in a search engine advertisement promoting our review of the company. It is our firm opinion that ElitePay Global filed this suit in bad faith in an attempt to suppress the contents of this review and intimidate its author into compliance with its demands using the threat of exorbitant legal fees. In accordance with our litigation policy, CardPaymentOptions.com refused to accept any settlement that would have limited our rights under U.S. law or forced the removal of this review. On June 5, 2015, the United States District Court for the Central District of California issued a summary judgment in favor of CardPaymentOption.com, denying ElitePay Global’s trademark infringement claim based on our nominative fair use defense.
Rise in Complaints
In the last year, there has been an unprecedented increase in the number and severity of complaints filed against ElitePay Global. In the comment section of this review alone, the company more than doubled its complaint total from approximately 75 complaints to over 150 complaints in less than twelve months. Most of these complainants specifically mention deceptive sales tactics and unfavorable contract terms through ElitePay Global. According to multiple complaints, sales agents promise a flat processing rate of 1% on credit card payments and 0% on debit card payments without explaining that the 1% rate only applies to “Qualified” transactions, while the 0% rate only applies to PIN Debit transactions. Some merchants also claim that they did not receive the full contract at the time of signing, or that agents altered the terms of contracts after the merchant signed up.
Another commonly cited issue is ElitePay Global’s habit of leasing equipment through First Data Global Leasing and Northern Leasing Systems. According to complainants, sales agents will commonly offer the 1% credit rate and the 0% debit rate on the condition that merchants sign a 48-month, non-cancellable equipment lease, often at a cost of up to $149 per month (even though most credit card terminals can be purchased for $400 or less). Upon cancelling the equipment lease that ElitePay Global provided, merchants often discover that the leasing provider will try to collect the full cost of the lease (often over $10,000) as one lump payment. To make these complaints even more troubling, the content of many complaints indicates that the confused merchants seem to have limited proficiency in the English language.
Judgments Against Similar Companies
If these reports are accurate, then ElitePay Global’s sales team appears to be engaging in conduct that has landed other merchant account providers in significant legal trouble. The FTC and various state attorneys general have begun to crack down on deceptive sales practices and predatory lease terms in recent years, so merchants who feel they have been deceived by ElitePay Global may benefit from familiarizing themselves with the following relevant cases:
- In January 2004, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) secured a $23.5 million settlement with Certified Merchant Services (CMS) following the forced sale of the company’s assets. The FTC’s complaint alleged that CMS modified customer contracts, made unauthorized debits from merchants’ accounts, misrepresented the products and services it was providing, and failed to disclose various charges and fees.
- In March 2013, the New York State Attorney General’s office reached a settlement with Northern Leasing Systems concerning over $11 million in unauthorized debits made from merchants’ bank accounts. To justify these withdrawals, Northern Leasing Systems cited a clause in its contract requiring customers to reimburse it for property taxes and “administrative fees,” even though many of the merchants it took money from had terminated their leases with Northern Leasing years earlier. Northern Leasing was unable to show that the collected amounts ever went to pay property taxes or administrative fees. The company was ordered to return all disputed amounts and pay a $575,000 penalty to the State of New York.
- In October 2014, the FTC and the Washington State Attorney General’s office reached separate settlements with Sphyra (dba Merchant Services Direct) regarding allegations that the company failed to disclose complete pricing information, altered contract terms, and misrepresented the cost and duration of equipment leases. Sphyra was ordered to pay $175,000 in damages to federal regulators and the state of Washington and was prohibited from utilizing the sales techniques in question ever again.
- In October 2014, the Minnesota State Attorney General’s office filed a complaint against Apex Merchant Group alleging that the company uses “bait-and-switch” pricing quotes and alters customer contracts by adding previously undisclosed cancellation penalties and term lengths. Interestingly, the CEO of Apex Merchant Group is Andrew Frankel, brother to Craig and Jonathan Frankel, the former owners of Certified Merchant Services. The Attorney General’s press release regarding the case goes out of its way to highlight the shared history of deceptive business practices among the brothers, one of whom is an investor in Apex Merchant Group. The outcome of the case is still pending.
Where to File Complaints
If you believe that you have been a victim of “bait-and-switch” rate quotes, nondisclosure of fees, unlawful contract alteration, unauthorized debits, or predatory sales tactics at the hands of ElitePay Global or one of its business partners, you may be able to obtain some relief by engaging in the following actions:
- Leave a detailed comment describing your experience in the comment section below this review. Be specific, provide as much factual information as you can, and, if possible, publicly authenticate your comment by including a link to your business’s website. This review and its comment section will contain the most current information regarding ElitePay Global’s sales practices and merchant complaint record.
- File a complaint with the Nevada Attorney General and the Utah Attorney General.
- File a complaint with your state’s attorney general (directory available here).
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
- If you believe your agent knowingly defrauded you, consider filing a police report and a lawsuit against him/her in small claims court for your losses.
- File a complaint with ElitePay Global’s Processors:
- File a complaint with the District Attorney of your county.
- File a complaint with ElitePay Global’s acquiring bank, Wells Fargo.
For other solutions, see our article on How to Report Bad Credit Card Processors.