A savvy business person always wants to know the shape of things to come. We won’t make predictions but, based on the FTC’s case against multi-level marketer AdvoCare International, we will say this: Don’t bet on a business model that looks like a pyramid.
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The name of the case is FTC v. Fat Giraffe Marketing Group, but the lawsuit has nothing to do with obesity, giraffes, or obese giraffes. OK, perhaps there are some similarities in the sense that the defendants made oversized claims, told tales as tall as tree-topping ungulates, and used protective coloration – in this case, bogus endorsements – to camouflage what they were up to.
Steely Dan may be one of the best duos of the rock era. (Sorry, Donnie and Marie fans.) Their song “Hey Nineteen” reminds us to mention some FTC consumer protection developments that could be of interest to your company or clients in 2019. As “Any Major Dude Will Tell You,” when you’re “Reelin’ in the Years” – or at least recapping the past one – consider this non-exhaustive and in-no-particular-order case compilation.
Based on the promoters’ promises, it sounded like a tropical paradise: a luxury enclave called Sanctuary Belize featuring a championship golf course, a new airport with direct flights to the U.S., and a hospital staffed with American doctors. No wonder consumers – many of whom were contemplating retirement – sunk more than $100 million of their savings into lots in what appeared to be a swanky resort development already under construction.
One of the Utah-based defendants’ corporate names was Vision Solution Marketing, but you need to hear their sales pitch to get a sense of how they peddled their big-money “business coaching” services to consumers. In addition to imposing multi-million dollar judgments, FTC settlements ban the defendants for life from selling business coaching or development services. But you really should listen to these phone calls.
In the annals of film, Citizen Kane, The Godfather, and Casablanca are among our top picks. But don’t expect our list to include TBX-FREE, Eupepsia Thin, or Prolongz, dissolving strips of film the FTC says California-based Redwood Scientific deceptively advertised for smoking cessation, weight loss, and male sexual performance.
The marketers behind a purported money-making promotion called Sellers Playbook appear to have skipped the chapter about complying with federal and state consumer protection laws. That’s the allegation in a complaint filed by the FTC and the Minnesota Attorney General. In addition, it’s the FTC’s first case charging violations of the Consumer Review Fairness Act.
The Cubs are in Los Angeles and the White Sox have the day off, but there’s still a lot happening in Chicago today. The FTC’s workshop Decrypting Cryptocurrency Scams is set to start at 1:00 PM Central Time at DePaul University. Speakers will explore how scammers are exploiting the interest in cryptocurrencies and what can be done to protect and empower consumers. Can’t make it to the Loop Campus this afternoon?
When it came to Mobile Money Code’s “system,” money was mobile all right. It traveled in a one-way direction from consumers to the pockets of the principals behind the get-rich-quick venture. That’s what the FTC alleged in a lawsuit filed against an international network of defendants. The FTC says they used affiliate marketing to promise that people would earn “60k a month on 100% autopilot,” but the typical consumer never got off the runway.
It’s unfortunate, but it happens. First came cryptocurrency. Then came the cryptocurrency crooks. In the emerging cryptocurrency marketplace, what needs to be done to protect consumers from scams, schemes, and swindles? That’s the topic of a half-day workshop on June 25, 2018, in Chicago, and the FTC just announced the agenda.
The company’s name is MOBE – pronounced Mōb, not Moby – but according to a lawsuit filed by the FTC, the defendants tell quite a fish story to the consumers they hook with money-making promises.
Vision Solution Marketing and related defendants pitch services to prospective entrepreneurs and people looking to supplement their income. Among the defendants’ products is business “coaching” that sets people back as much as $13,995. But given the host of alleged misrepresentations cited in a lawsuit filed in federal court in Utah, the FTC says the defendants definitely aren’t playing on consumers’ team.
You can say this about scammers: They tend toward the trendy. As new products and services enter the marketplace, it’s not long before fraudsters find a way to exploit consumer interest in the innovation to make a quick buck. Cryptocurrencies are no exception, which is why the FTC is hosting a workshop in Chicago on June 25, 2018, Decrypting Cryptocurrency Scams.
An FTC lawsuit alleges that money-making claims made by a related group of companies and individuals for their Amazing Wealth System are “amazing” all right – if by “amazing” you mean “not credible” or “unsupported by the facts.” The complaint charges the defendants with violating the FTC Act and the Business Opportunity Ru
As a business person managing your personal portfolio, you do your best to keep up with the latest financial news. You’ve been hearing more about cryptocurrencies and asking yourself “Hmmm.” Of course, it’s not just bitcoin. There are now hundreds of cryptocurrencies, which are a type of digital currency, on the market. They’ve been publicized as a fast and inexpensive way to pay online, but many are now also being marketed as investment opportunities. But before you decide to purchase cryptocurrency as an investment, here are a few things to know:
Multi-level marketers sell a wide variety of products and services and they structure their companies in different ways. But there’s a lodestar that all industry members can use to navigate through issues that may arise – and here it is: Core consumer protection principles apply to all MLMs. FTC staff has just released business guidance to help MLMs apply those core principles to their business practices.
It sounds like there was some “inventing” going on at Florida-based invention promotion firm World Patent Marketing, but a Preliminary Injunction in a case brought by the FTC suggests it wasn’t the kind that unsuspecting consumers bargained for when they forked over millions of dollars based on the defendants’ misleading promises about patenting and promoting their products.
An online promotion began with the headline “No Scam” – and according to a lawsuit brought by the FTC, it was downhill from there.
Rockne, Lombardi, Landry, Shula. Behind every sports dynasty, there’s a legendary coach. But according to the FTC, marketers of “business coaching” services took consumers for millions by using offside sales tactics that will likely disqualify them from the Truth-in-Advertising Hall of Fame.
When scammers and hackers attack small businesses, it hurts not only the businesses’ reputations and bottom line, but also the integrity of the marketplace. Today, FTC Acting Chairman Maureen Ohlhausen announced a new FTC website, FTC.gov/SmallBusiness, to help business owners avoid scams, protect their computers and networks, and keep their customers’ and employees’ data safe.