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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

FTC, Florida permanently shut down grant funding operation

Federal Issues FTC Enforcement State Issues Florida State Attorney General FTC Act Deceptive UDAP

Federal Issues

On December 8, the FTC and the Florida attorney general announced that a Florida-based grant funding company and its owner (collectively, “defendants”) will be permanently banned from offering grant-writing and business consulting services as a result of a lawsuit the regulators brought against the defendants in June. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the complaint alleged that the defendants violated the Consumer Protection Act, the FTC Act, and the Florida Deceptive Unfair Trade Practices Act by deceptively marketing their services to minority-owned small businesses. Among other things, the defendants (i) promised grant funding that did not exist and/or was never awarded; (ii) misled customers about the status of grant awards; and (iii) failed to honor a “money-back guarantee” and suppressed customer complaints. The defendants agreed to the terms of a proposed court order, which would ban them from providing grant-related services and business consulting, and prohibit them from making misrepresentations regarding advertised products or services. Defendants would also be required to turn over certain property to be sold in order to provide refunds to affected businesses. The proposed order also includes a more than $2 million monetary judgment, which is partially suspended due to defendants’ inability to pay.