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FHTM Path to Financial Independence Scam Stopped by FTC

At the request of the Federal Trade Commission and the states of Illinois, Kentucky, and North Carolina, a federal court has halted an allegedly illegal pyramid scheme pending trial. The FTC and the state attorneys general seek to stop the allegedly illegal practices of the Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing (FHTM) operation, which claimed consumers would make substantial income by joining the scheme. The operation affected more than 100,000 consumers throughout the United States, including Puerto Rico, and Canada. In some areas, including Chicago, the scheme targeted Spanish-speaking consumers.

“Pyramid schemes are more like icebergs,” said C. Steven Baker, Director of the FTC’s Midwest Region. “At any point most people must and will be underwater financially. These defendants were promising people that if they worked hard they could make lots of money. But it was a rigged game, and the vast majority of people lost money.”

According to the complaint filed by the FTC and the state attorneys general, the defendants falsely claimed consumers would earn significant income for selling the products and services of companies such as Dish Network, Frontpoint Home Security, and various cell phone providers, and for selling FHTM’s line of health and beauty products. Despite FHTM’s claims, nearly all consumers who signed up with the scheme lost more money than they ever made. To the extent that consumers could make any income, however, it was mainly for recruiting other consumers, and FHTM’s compensation plan ensured that most consumers made little or no money, the complaint alleged.

“This is the beginning of the end for one of the most prolific pyramid schemes operating in North America,” Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway said. “This is a classic pyramid scheme in every sense of the word. The vast majority of people, more than 90 percent, who bought in to FHTM lost their money.”

As alleged in the complaint, FHTM promoted itself as a way for average people to achieve financial independence. Some FHTM representatives claimed they earned more than 10 times as much as their previous earnings in their second and subsequent years with FHTM. One person claimed that another representative earned more than $50,000 in his sixth month and millions of dollars in subsequent years. Another person promoted a recruitment meeting on her Twitter account, stating, “Bring ur friends & learn how 2 make $120K aYR.” At its 2012 national convention in Dallas, FHTM called its top 30 earners to the stage to present them with a mock-up of a $64 million check, which several of them shared as a photo on social networking websites.

To participate in the scheme, consumers paid annual fees ranging from $100 to $300. To qualify for sales commissions and recruiting bonuses, they had to pay an extra $130 to $400 per month and agree to a continuity plan that billed them monthly for products unless they canceled the plan. Those who signed up more consumers and maintained certain sales levels could earn promotions and greater compensation, but contrary to FHTM’s claims, the complaint alleged, its compensation plan ensured that, at any given time, most participants would spend more money than they would earn.

According to the complaint, recruits were told they could earn high commissions by selling products to people outside the operation, but instead only minimal compensation was paid for sales to non-participants, and few products were ever sold to anyone other than participants. The scheme provided much larger rewards for recruiting people than for selling products, and more than 85 percent of the money consumers made was for recruitment.

In addition to charging the defendants with operating an illegal pyramid scheme and making false earnings claims, the FTC charged them with furnishing consumers with false and misleading materials for recruiting more participants. The attorneys general offices of Illinois, Kentucky and North Carolina joined the FTC complaint, as well as alleging violations of their respective state laws.

The defendants are Paul C. Orberson, Thomas A. Mills, Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing Inc., FHTM Inc., Alan Clark Holdings LLC, FHTM Canada Inc., and Fortune Network Marketing (UK) Limited. On January 24, 2013, the court halted the deceptive practices, froze the defendants’ assets, and appointed a temporary receiver over the corporations pending a trial. – Source

FHTM Path to Financial Independence Scam Stopped by FTC
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About Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode
Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
  • Truth

    For once I would actually like to read something written on a page about fhtm or anything other company, that didn’t have ads or links of another “amazing opportunity”. Whether or not FHTM is done (and I don’t think they are) It absolutely make me sick of all of the vultures that have come out, talking bad about the company on one hand, but on the other hand are promoting another company. Really!! how objective can you be. I am not sure what it is you’re selling Mr Steve, but it must be something that you feel that you can capitalize on if indeed FHTM is shut down. I don’t think that you can write an unbiased, factual article when you have something that you want to gain from it, and to do so is unethical. Just my opinion

    Thanks

    • http://GetOutOfDebt.org Steve Rhode

      Three issues:

      1. What about the Federal Trade Commission press release above do you feel is inaccurate.

      2. What company are we promoting? I don’t see anything in the press release above that promotes any company.

      3. Considering the article is the press release issued by the Federal Trade Commission I’d say we were entirely unbiased since we did not inject anything.

  • Iwantthetruth

    Mr Steve.
    After reading your article about FHTM I get the feeling that you didn’t honestly do your homework and check out the company for yourself. The company does not make claims of income and prohibits such activity from the independent contractors. it does provide an income statement showing the percent of how much reps make a month on different levels which I believe is required of all MLMs. The income disclosure statement is indicative of a majority of the MLM companies in existence today. The company to my knowledge, which is not all inclusive, however appears to be somewhat more informed than yours, explains in detail exactly how and when someone gets paid and has not been (bilking) people as you claimed but actually pays out as it claims. You would be wiser to wait until a judgement is made on the case instead of making your own ill-informed judgements before writing such an article that people may read as factual. This action makes you look no better than the picture you are portraying about FHTM. If the FTC have probable cause to investigate and find wrongdoing in their operations then your reporting of their findings would be appropriate.

    • http://GetOutOfDebt.org Steve Rhode

      The article is the press release from the FTC issued after their investigation and action as shown by the source link.

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