A federal judge ordered the arrest and incarceration of Paul Navestad, known legally as Paul Richard Jones, for violating an April 2012 court order requiring him to pay more than $20 million for his role in a phony government grant scheme.
The court, in a case brought by the Federal Trade Commission, had ordered Navestad to pay $20 million in civil penalties - the largest civil penalty against a defendant in an FTC case and give up more than $1.1 million in ill-gotten gains, for making millions of robocalls falsely claiming consumers could get grants from federal, state and local governments, private foundations and individuals.
At the time of the order, a $10 million judgment also was issued against Christine Maspakorn. The $30 million in total fines was, by far, the largest penalty ever imposed for unlawful calls to consumers on the Do-Not-Call Registry.
Navestad and Maspakorn, operating primarily as the "Cash Grant Institute," made more than eight million robocalls to consumers, including more than 2.7 million calls to phone numbers on the National Do-Not-Call Registry, according to an order by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York. The calls falsely claimed that "cash grants" for consumers were readily available from federal, state and local governments, private foundations and "wealthy individuals." The calls promised consumers that they had already qualified for these grants, and that they could receive up to $25,000 to overcome personal financial problems.
The robocalls directed interested consumers to one of Navestad and Maspakorn's Web sites, requestagrant.com, which repeated many of the same deceptive claims about the availability of "Free Grant Money."
Navestad is believed to be residing overseas. The court has ordered his arrest upon his return to the U.S. and his incarceration until he pays the money due.