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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

FTC settles with program operators

Federal Issues FTC Enforcement FTC Act

Federal Issues

On July 2, the FTC announced a settlement with operators of a Florida-based recruitment program (defendants) for allegedly promising that participants could receive large amounts of money from selling memberships to other participants. The FTC filed a complaint in 2020 as part of an initiative called “Operation Income Illusion,” which encompasses more than 50 enforcement actions against alleged scams targeting consumers with false promises of income and financial independence (covered by InfoBytes here). According to the complaint, the defendants allegedly violated the FTC Act, among other things, by selling expensive memberships to programs by promoting earnings between $500 and $12,500 per sale. Under the terms of the stipulated final order, the defendants are prohibited from: (i) “creating, advertising, marketing, promoting, offering for sale, or selling” any business or investment opportunity or misrepresenting the amount of money someone can earn from any type of business; (ii) assisting others in such activity; and (iii) owning any financial interest in a business entity that engages in such activity. A $3.6 million monetary judgment is ordered against the company and its owners, in addition to a $217,426 monetary judgment against the company’s promoter. Due to the defendants’ inability to pay the full amount, the judgments will be partially suspended once all four defendants’ turn over various assets. A default judgment was entered in March against two additional defendants who promoted the scheme that included similar requirements, in addition to a $600,000 and $171,500 monetary judgment.

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