FTC Settlements Ban Defendants from Selling Work-at-Home Businesses

The operators of a scheme that allegedly defrauded consumers who were trying to start their own online businesses have been permanently banned from selling work-at-home business opportunities under settlements with the Federal Trade Commission.

The seven settlements resolve FTC charges against 20 corporate and individual defendants who falsely told consumers they would build and host websites, and provide marketing expertise, to enable consumers to profit when shoppers clicked through the websites to buy things from “Fortune 500” retailers.  After the agency filed its complaint in May 2012, the court halted the deceptive practices and froze the defendants’ assets pending litigation.

In addition to the ban on selling work-at-home business opportunities, the settlement orders announced today permanently prohibit the defendants from misrepresenting material facts about any products and services, violating the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule, collecting money from customers, selling or otherwise benefitting from consumers’ personal information, and failing to properly dispose of customer information.

Named in the FTC’s complaint are North America Marketing and Associates LLC, NAMAA LLC, TM Multimedia Marketing LLC (Nevada), TM Multimedia Marketing LLC (Arizona), National Opportunities LLC (Nevada), National Opportunities LLC (Arizona), World Wide Marketing and Associates LLC, Wide World of Marketing LLC, Precious Metals Resource LLC, Guaranteed Communications LLC, Superior Multimedia Group LLC, Joseph Wayne Lowry, Kimberly Joy Birdsong, Sarah Lynne Stapel, Alyisse Maloi Tramel, Daniel Vigil, and Tracy Jerome Morris, and relief defendant Sheila Ann Lowry, who allegedly profited from the illegal practices.  Today’s announced actions include an amended complaint naming former relief defendants Carl Edward Morris Jr. and Marketing Strategies LLC as liability defendants.

The settlement orders impose a suspended $17.9 million judgment against each of the defendants except Sarah Stapel, who is subject to a $78,070 judgment.  The judgments against Tracy Morris and Stapel are suspended based on their inability to pay.  The judgments against the others will be suspended when the corporate defendants have surrendered frozen funds, Joseph Lowry has paid $77,500, Sheila Lowry has paid $28,000, Vigil has paid $14,450, Tramel has paid $9,400, and Birdsong has surrendered $1,896.  The full judgments will become due immediately if the defendants are found to have misrepresented their financial condition.

The Commission vote authorizing the staff to file the proposed orders and amended complaint was 4-0.  The proposed orders were filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona on June 20, 2013; the proposed amended complaint will be filed soon.

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

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them.  To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call
1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

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