FTC Settlement and Default Judgment Impose Permanent Ban on Marketers of Scam ‘Recovery’ Kits

An operation that allegedly bilked consumers by falsely claiming it could help them recover money they lost in previous scams will be banned from selling recovery services under a default judgment against Business Recovery Services LLC and a consent judgment against its owner, Brian Hessler.

The judgments permanently ban the defendants from selling any services that are represented to recover or otherwise assist in the return of money or any other item of value paid for by, or promised to, a person in a previous transaction.

“In effect, this scheme rubbed salt in the wound of people who had already been victimized, targeting them and defrauding them all over again,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “The FTC is committed to taking action against these types of egregious scams.”

The FTC charged Hessler and his company in 2011 with selling worthless do-it-yourself kits, priced up to $499, for people who had lost money to business opportunity and work-at-home operations.  The case was part of an enforcement sweep targeting scams that took advantage of financially strapped consumers.

In addition to the ban on recovery sales, the judgments prohibit the defendants from misrepresenting material facts about any products and services or any refund or cancellation policy, the total cost, or that any person is affiliated with or endorsed by another person, program, or government entity.  The defendants are also barred them from disclosing or otherwise benefitting from customers’ personal information, failing to dispose of this information properly, and misrepresenting any facts material to a consumer’s decision to buy a product, donate to charity, or enter a contest.

The default judgment imposes a $5.2 million judgment against Business Recovery Services.  The consent judgment against Hessler imposes a $5.2 million judgment that was suspended upon payment of $90,000.  The full judgment will become due immediately if he is found to have misrepresented his financial condition.

The Commission vote to approve the proposed consent judgment was 4-0.  The Department of Justice filed the proposed consent judgment on behalf of the Commission in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona.  The consent judgment and default judgment were entered by the court on September 30, 2013.

NOTE:  Consent judgments have the force of law when approved and signed by the District Court judge.

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