The Federal Trade Commission has charged a Florida man and his company with bilking at least $1.3 million from newly-opened small businesses by pretending to be a federal government agency, and threatening that the business will be shut down or fined unless they purchase occupational safety and other government regulation posters for their premises.
At the FTC’s request, a federal court has temporarily halted the operation. The agency seeks to permanently stop the alleged illegal practices and obtain refunds for the victimized businesses.
According to the FTC’s complaint, the defendants call business owners, pretending to be the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or some other agency. Using names that sound like government agencies, such as “Occupational Safety and Compliance Administration,” “US Corporate Compliance Office” and “Occupational Compliance and Safety Administration,” defendants tell the businesses that they are not complying with federal law and that the government upon inspection will shut down or fine the business unless the owner immediately purchases regulatory posters, which cost from $179.99 to $189.99. After paying for the posters, victims discovered that they were dealing with a company, not the government who provides regulatory posters free. Those who called the company for refunds typically could only leave voicemails that were not returned; the defendants make it difficult to obtain refunds.
The defendants are Sean K. Juhl and D&S Marketing Solutions LLC, also doing business as US Corporate Compliance Office, Office of Compliance and Safety Standards, and Occupational Safety and Compliance Administration.
The Commission vote approving the complaint was 3-0. The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division, entered a temporary restraining order against the defendants on June 8, 2016.
NOTE: The Commission files a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. The case will be decided by the court.
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