The Federal Trade Commission has charged three individuals and five companies they control with bilking money from seniors, veterans, and debt-laden consumers by selling them a worthless money-making opportunity purportedly linked to Amazon.com, and luring them with a phony grants program.
At the FTC’s request, a federal court has temporarily halted the operation. The agency seeks to end the alleged illegal practices and obtain money for return to consumers.
According to the FTC’s complaint, the defendants’ telemarketers falsely tell people they represent Amazon and offer, for hundreds or thousands of dollars, to create a website for them linked to Amazon.com, claiming they will earn thousands of dollars every month in commissions for sales via the website. They also falsely offer to advertise the consumer’s website and use search engine optimization to drive customers to it.
The defendants’ telemarketers allegedly also call people, often claiming to represent the government, and falsely tell them they can get government and corporate grants to help pay for home repairs, medical costs, and paying down debt. They ask for thousands of dollars up-front and falsely promise that consumers will receive grants worth tens of thousands of dollars within 90 days.
According to the FTC, the defendants then tried to extract even larger payments from many of these same consumers using a tactic known as “reloading” – offering to sell them additional phony grants and typically promising that they can qualify for larger grants by forming a limited liability company.
Consumers receive no money from these schemes, according to the FTC. Those who call the defendants to complain are ignored, and the defendants provide no refunds.
The defendants are Blue Saguaro Marketing LLC, also doing business as Blue Saguaro Grant Program, Gera Grant, Government Grant Service, Grant Center, and Grant Resources; MarketingWays.com LLC, also d/b/a Amazon.com Associates Program; Max Results Marketing LLC, also d/b/a Amazon.com Associates Program, Amazon Affiliate Program, Amazon Associates Central, Gera Grant and, and Grant Strategy Solutions; Oro Canyon Marketing II LLC; Paramount Business Services LLC, also d/b/a Paramount Business Resources; Stephanie A. Bateluna; Stacey Vela; and Carl E. Morris, Jr. They are charged with violating the FTC Act and the Telemarketing Sales Rule.
The FTC thanks the Phoenix Police Department and Office of the Arizona Attorney General for their important partnership in shutting down this blatant scam.
The Commission vote approving the complaint was 3-0. The U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona entered a temporary restraining order against the defendants on October 11, 2016, and extended this order on October 25, 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.
The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition, and protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357). Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, read our blogs and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.