A federal court has imposed a $26.9 million judgment against the operator of a work-at-home scheme who lied about his financial assets in an effort to hide them from the Federal Trade Commission when he agreed to a settlement with the agency in 2010.
Jonathan Eborn was one of the marketers behind a work-at-home scheme that operated under names such as "Google Money Tree," "Google Pro" and "Google Treasure Chest."
By using the Google name and logo and falsely promising that consumers would earn $100,000 in six months, the defendants lured consumers into divulging financial account information to pay a shipping fee for a work-at-home kit.
The defendants failed to disclose that buying the product would trigger automatic monthly charges of $72.21 for another product, and that those charges would continue until the consumer took steps to cancel, according to the FTC complaint.
Under the settlement, the defendants were banned from negative option marketing and from making misrepresentations to consumers. They gave up more than $3.5 million in cash and other assets and the money was returned to consumers in 2012.
Eborn was excused from liability for the vast majority of a $29.5 million judgment (the total consumer injury) based on sworn financial statements that purportedly showed his inability to pay. Under the terms of the settlement, if any defendant misrepresented their financial condition, the full judgment would become due. Eborn could not immediately be reached for comment.
On June 4, the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada found that Eborn hid at least $274,828.80, by failing to report cash and assets and by misrepresenting his control over certain businesses. The court also found that Eborn failed to report his residence and his acquisition of more than $33,100 in personal property. Based on these findings, the court reinstated the full judgment of $26.9 million against Eborn.
The original $29.5 million settlement included defendants Eborn; Michael McLain Miller; Tony Norton; Infusion Media Inc.; West Coast Internet Media Inc.; Two Warnings LLC; Two Part Investments LLC; and Platinum Teleservices Inc.
A fourth individual defendant, Stephanie Burnside, was subject to a judgment of $741,900. The defendants gave up cash and other assets that included two cars, a Harley Davidson motorcycle, a boat and a gun collection.