The Federal Trade Commission announced that it stepped up its ongoing campaign against scammers who falsely promise guaranteed jobs and opportunities to be “your own boss.” “Operation Empty Promises,” a multi-agency law enforcement initiative, resulted in more than 90 enforcement actions, including three new FTC cases and developments in seven other matters, 48 criminal actions by the Department of Justice (many involved the assistance of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service), seven additional civil actions by the Postal Inspection Service, and 28 actions by state law enforcement agencies in Alaska, California, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Montana, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Washington, and the District of Columbia.
In addition to making false claims about employment opportunities, one of the actions also alleged that the defendants overcharged for background checks. In its complaint against National Sales Group, Anthony J. Newton, Jeremy S. Cooley, and I Life Marketing LLC, also doing business as Executive Sales Network and Certified Sales Jobs, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division on February 22, 2011, the FTC charged that the defendants advertised nonexistent sales jobs with “good pay” and benefits on CareerBuilder.com and other online job boards, that their telemarketers falsely told consumers that the company recruited for Fortune 1000 employers and that they had a unique ability to get the consumers interviewed and hired. The FTC also alleged that the defendants charged fees they said covered background checks and other services, and often overcharged, taking $97 from consumers who had agreed to pay $29 or $38. Further, the defendants allegedly charged some consumers recurring fees of $13.71 or more per month without their consent.
According to other documents filed in the court, the defendants’ actions generated more than 17,000 complaints to law enforcement agencies, online forums, and job boards, and defrauded consumers of at least $8 million. (CareerBuilder.com dropped the company from its website due to complaints.) The court temporarily halted the defendants’ deceptive practices, froze their assets, and put the company into receivership.
See http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2011/03/emptypromises.shtm for information about other enforcement actions brought through “Operation Empty Promises.”