How does a company go from being No. 553 on the Inc. 5000 list one year, and then two years later, settle FTC charges that it assisted fraudulent schemes that took more than $110 million from consumers? I’m talking about Allied Wallet, which made the Inc. 5000 in 2017 and settled with the Federal Trade Commission on May 21.
According to the FTC, orders against the company’s CEO and owner, Ahmad Khawaja, and two other officers, Mohammad Diab and Amy Rountree, require them to pay $110 million, $320,429.82 and $1 million, respectfully. Their payment processing business is prohibited from working with certain types of merchants, too, like sellers and marketers of money-making opportunities and debt collection services—the types of companies that they assisted in perpetrating fraud, so says the FTC. What kind of background check does Inc. do on companies they list, or is it based strictly on financial data?
William Dinklow, Customer Service Representative
Based on review of the Inc. 5000 application guide at www.inc.com/inc5000/apply/guide, it appears the company does not vet applicants to assess whether their practices are ethical or lawful, but the organization does not claim to do so either. To qualify for consideration this year, a company must be privately owned, based in the United States, and independent (not a subsidiary or division of another company); have started earning revenue by March 31, 2015; had revenue no less than $100,000 in 2015; had revenue no less than $2,000,000 in 2018; and revenue in 2018 must exceed revenue in 2015.
Many other organizations offer awards that recognize more than income and growth. Community service initiatives, superior work environments, and breakthrough technologies that better their respective industries come to mind. Awards specific to the payments sphere, such as the ETA Star Awards, do vet companies, based on several criteria, before honors are bestowed.
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