On March 13, 2017, the FTC issued a press release announcing that it reached a settlement with the operators of a telemarketing scheme that had allegedly harmed thousands of consumers across the country. According to the FTC, many of the consumers targeted by the scheme were elderly individuals or military veterans living on fixed income.
Under the terms of the stipulated final order, the defendants must pay approximately $7.5 million in consumer redress. The defendants are also prohibited from telemarketing, marketing investment opportunities, and selling or otherwise benefiting from consumers’ personal information.
In October 2016, the FTC filed a complaint in an Arizona federal district court alleging that the defendants sold fraudulent online investment opportunities to people across the country. According to the FTC’s complaint, the defendants would cold-call consumers and urge them to buy or invest in e-commerce websites, or participate in a profit-sharing program involving credit card companies and e-commerce websites. The defendants falsely guaranteed significant returns on investment and led consumers to believe that their investments were “risk free” or had a “100 percent money back guarantee.” The defendants allegedly received payments from consumers ranging from several hundred dollars to more than $20,000.
The FTC’s complaint named the scam’s owners, Susan Rodriguez, Matthew Rodriguez, and William “Matt” Whitley, and their six corporations: Advertising Strategies LLC, Internet Advertising Solutions LLC, Internet Resource Group Inc., Network Advertising Systems LLC, Network Professional Systems LLC, and Network Solutions Group Inc. The defendants have also operated under names such as Building Money, Prime Cash, Wyze Money, and Titan Income.
The FTC alleged violations of the FTC Act and the Telemarketing Sales Rule, including calling numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry.
The stipulated final order imposes a $25 million judgment, partially suspended upon the defendants’ surrender of assets. The full judgment will become due immediately if they have misrepresented their financial condition.
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