The Federal Trade Commission just shut down a work-at-home scheme that allegedly cheated U.S. and Canadian consumers out of more than $6 million.
At the FTC’s request, a federal court halted the business, which allegedly made false promises that consumers could make money by referring local merchants to the defendants’ non-existent money-lending business.
The court froze the defendants’ assets and appointed a receiver to temporarily take over the business pending litigation by the FTC, which seeks to permanently shut the operation and return money to consumers.
The FTC complaint names 20 people and eight companies as defendants in the case. The operation started doing business as “Money Now Funding,” but changed product names, office locations and merchant identities to avoid law enforcement. At one point the company went by the name “Cash4Businesses.”
The defendants allegedly told consumers they could earn up to $3,000 per month and run a profitable work-at-home business by referring small businesses to them for loans or cash advances of around $20,000. Consumers were pressured to act quickly and paid $299 to $499 to take advantage of the work-at-home opportunity.
The defendants allegedly promised to help consumers find referrals in their area and urged them to buy leads–lists of “high quality” or “pre-approved” merchants. The leads turned out to be random names and email addresses, many with no clear connection to any business. The “leads” often cost more than $10,000 and some consumers paid tens of thousands of dollars.
The defendants allegedly violated the FTC Act by falsely representing that consumers would earn real income. They also allegedly violated the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule by calling numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry, calling consumers who told them not to call, calling consumers repeatedly to annoy them, making threats and using obscenities, and failing to pay the Registry access fee.
The defendants were also charged with violating the FTC’s Business Opportunity Rule, which requires business opportunity sellers to give specific information to help consumers test a business opportunity, and forbids sellers from making earnings claims without substantiation.
Corporate defendants are Money Now Funding LLC, also known as Money Now Funded, Cash4Businesses, and CashFourBusinesses; Rose Marketing LLC; DePaola Marketing LLC; Affiliate Marketing Group LLC; Legal Doxs LLC, aka First Business LLC; US Doc Assist LLC, aka First Business LLC; Affinity Technologies LLC; and Marketing Expert Solutions LLC.
Individual defendants are Lukeroy K. Rose, aka Luke Rose; Cordell Bess, aka Blaine Thompson, also doing business as JJB Marketing; Solana DePaola; Jennifer Beckman; William D. Claspell, aka Bill Claspell; Richard Frost, aka Richard Strickland; Dino Mitchell, aka Dino Jones; Clinton Rackley, aka Clinton Fosse; Lance Himes, aka Lance R. Himes, aka Raymond L. Himes, a/k/a Lance Haist; Leary Darling; Donna F. Duckett, also dba D&D Marketing Solutions; Della Frost, also d/b/a ZoomDocs and Zoom Docs LLC; Christopher Grimes, also d/b/a Elite Marketing Strategies; Alannah M. Harre, also dba National Marketing Group; Ronald W. Hobbs, aka Ron Hobbs, also dba Ron Hobbs & Associates and Sales Academy USA LLC; Janine Lilly, also dba Doc Assistant; Michael McIntyre, also dba McIntyre Marketing; Benny Montgomery, also dba Montgomery Marketing; Virginia Rios, also dba V&R Marketing Solutions; and Kendrick Thomas, also dba KT Advertising.
– Watch Your Buck, Sept. 30, 2013