The operators of a telemarketing scheme charged with bilking millions of dollars from consumers, many of whom are seniors or military veterans on fixed income, will pay approximately $7.5 million in consumer redress under a settlement with the FTC.
The stipulated final order also prohibits the defendants – who operated under names such as Building Money, Prime Cash, Wyze Money, and Titan Income – from telemarketing, marketing investment opportunities, and selling or otherwise benefitting from consumers’ personal information.
In October 2016, the FTC filed a federal court complaint alleging that the defendants sold bogus online investment opportunities to people across the nation. The descriptions of the “opportunity” varied, but typically involved buying or investing in e-commerce related websites, or participating in a profit-sharing program involving credit card companies and e-commerce websites. The defendants got hefty payments from consumers – some exceeded $20,000. At the FTC’s request, a federal court halted the scheme and froze the defendants’ assets pending litigation.
The FTC’s complaint names the scheme’s owners, Susan Rodriguez, Matthew Rodriguez and William “Matt” Whitley, and their companies, Advertising Strategies LLC, Internet Advertising Solutions LLC, Internet Resource Group Inc., Network Advertising Systems LLC, Network Professional Systems LLC and Network Solutions Group Inc. They are charged with violating the FTC Act and the Telemarketing Sales Rule, including calling numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry.
The stipulated final order imposes a $25 million judgment, partially suspended upon the defendants’ surrender of assets. The full judgment will become due immediately if they have misrepresented their financial condition.
The Commission vote approving the stipulated final order was 2-0. The U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona entered the order on March 8, 2017.
NOTE: Stipulated final orders have the force of law when approved and signed by the District Court judge.
To learn more, read the FTC’s information on Business Opportunity Scams and on Investment Risks.