Last month I wrote about the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and their halting of the operation “Grant Connect” which was a program that deceived and mislead consumers about bogus products and services with unsubstantiated claims. The program marketed free government grants endorsed by President Obama, dietary supplements endorsed by Oprah, fake work-at-home opportunities and exclusive credit offers in this bogus operation.
It was announced today that the FTC won a $29.8 million judgement against the defendants behind the Grant Connect program. The court has permanently banned the defendants from promoting a variety of products and services similar to those they deceptively pitched to consumers around the country.
The FTC charged the defendants with deceiving consumers by making misleading and unsubstantiated claims about bogus products and services, including one that supposedly would help them get free government grants.
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The U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada found that the defendants marketed their grant products, including Grant Connect, using pictures of President Obama and the American flag to bolster the impression that billions of dollars in free government grants were available quickly and easily for personal needs.
The court also found that the defendants:
- deceptively marketed dietary supplements using claims unsupported by scientific research;
- failed to adequately disclose that their credit offers were merely memberships to a shopping club;
- made unsupported claims that consumers could earn thousands of dollars per month with a work-from-home business opportunity;
- failed to adequately disclose that consumers who bought their products or services would be enrolled in continuity plans with significant monthly fees, often for a variety of unrelated products;
- used fake testimonials to promote their products; and 6) debited consumers’ bank accounts on a recurring basis without obtaining consumers’ permission.
The court order announced today bans the remaining defendants from marketing or selling:
- grant-related products and services;
- credit-related products;
- work-from-home and business opportunities; and
- dietary supplements and nutraceuticals.
It also bans the defendants from using:
- continuity programs and negative option marketing, in which consumers have to opt out of receiving products to prevent being charged on a recurring basis;
- testimonials in connection with any product or service; and
- preauthorized electronic fund transfers that charge consumers’ debit accounts.
Earlier this year, the FTC settled similar charges against several other defendants in the case. Under those settlements, Juliette Kimoto, Johnnie Smith, and four companies Kimoto owned were barred from marketing certain products and services similar to those that they allegedly offered to consumers. The settlements also imposed a $29.8 million judgment against them that was partially suspended.
Today’s court order grants the FTC’s motion for summary judgement against defendants:
Steven R. Henriksen
Tasha Jn Paul
Rachel A. Cook
James J. Gray
Randy D. O’Connell
Allclear Communications, Inc.
Consolidated Merchant Solutions, LLC
Dragon Group, Inc.
Elite Benefits, Inc.
Global Fulfillment, Inc.
Global Gold, Inc.
Global Gold Limited
Grant Connect, LLC
Healthy Allure, Inc.
Horizon Holdings, LLC
MSC Online, Inc.
O’Connell Gray, LLC
OS Marketing Group, LLC
Paid To Process, Inc.
Premier Plus Member, Inc.
Total Health, Inc.
Vcomm, Inc. – Source.
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