Eighteen marketers that allegedly cheated U.S. and Canadian consumers out of more than $7 million are banned from selling business or work-at-home opportunities under court orders obtained by the Federal Trade Commission.
The orders, along with court orders against 14 other people and companies named in the FTC's lawsuit, resolve charges that the defendants conned consumers into believing they could make money by referring merchants in their area to a non-existent money-lending service.
Many victims affected by this scam were seniors with limited income and savings.
"The defendants tricked people into purchasing worthless 'business opportunities and manipulated the credit card system to hide their tracks," said Jessica Rich, director of the FTCs Bureau of Consumer Protection. "Were pleased the court stopped this deception, which harmed many older people just trying to make a living."
The defendants, who began operating as "Money Now Funding" tried to avoid detection by law enforcement by changing product names, office locations, and merchant identities. They falsely claimed consumers would earn up to $3,000 per month by referring small businesses to the defendants to obtain loans. After consumers paid up to $499 to buy the business opportunity, the defendants told them that, to succeed, they had to buy sales leads that cost tens of thousands of dollars but turned out to be worthless.
Thursday's announcement describes the courts summary judgment orders against three defendants (the court found the facts of the case indisputable), settlements with six defendants and default judgment against 23 defendants who did not respond to charges made against them.
The various judgments and settlements impose a ban on selling business or work-at-home opportunities on Lukeroy K. Rose, Leary Darling, Solana DePaola, Lance Himes, Cordell Bess, Cynthia Miller, Clinton Rackley and Richard Frost.
Ten corporate defendants are included: Money Now Funding LLC, Rose Marketing LLC, DePaola Marketing LLC, Affiliate Marketing Group LLC, Affinity Technologies LLC, Global Network Marketing LLC, Precise Payroll Services LLC, Strategic Media Advertising LLC, Legal Doxs LLC and US Doc Assist LLC.
Some defendants also are banned from telemarketing. Further, the judgments and settlements include provisions that apply specifically to certain defendants, prohibiting them from engaging in the types of misconduct alleged by the FTC.
The judgments and settlements also impose monetary judgments of $7.3 million against 12 defendants and smaller judgments against others.
The judgments against some defendants are suspended because of their inability to pay and, in some cases, pending the transfer of assets frozen by the court or held in receivership. The full judgments will become due immediately if the defendants are found to have misrepresented their financial condition.