Orlando-based Linc II, Inc. and its president and owner, Betty Busler, have agreed to turn over $8,000 in frozen funds as part of a settlement of Federal Trade Commission charges that they engaged in a fraudulent job search service scheme. The settlement also would require Busler to post a $200,000 bond for the protection of future customers before offering or assisting others who offer job placement services. The settlement would end the litigation in this case, which the FTC brought as part of Project Career Sweep, a crackdown on fraudulent employment services that charge consumers up-front fees but provide little of value, if anything, in return.
In the Linc II case, the FTC alleged that the defendants falsely claimed that they had access to a nationwide "hidden" job market and that they could obtain multiple job interviews for clients in their chosen fields and geographical areas. According to the FTC, none of the 40 Linc II clients surveyed by FTC staff received even a single interview, let alone a job, as a result of the defendants' services. Further, the FTC alleged that the defendants routinely charged $389 for their services, but consumers who requested refunds generally received less than $20. At the time the FTC filed charges in the case, it sought and won a temporary restraining order halting the challenged scheme and freezing the defendants' assets. The one other defendant in the case, telemarketer Joel Ancelowitz, already settled with the FTC under a consent judgment that permanently bans him from participating in the telemarketing or employment services businesses in any way. (See Oct. 21, 1996 news release.)
In addition to the $8,000 judgment and the bond requirement, the settlement negotiated by the FTC would prohibit Linc II and Busler from falsely representing:
- that consumers will be contacted by potential employers or receive job offers;
- the number or percentage of customers who get jobs;
- the number of job openings they can fill;
- the extent to which fees will be refunded; and
- any other fact material to a consumer's decision to purchase job placement agency services, to make a charitable contribution, to enter a contest for a prize or award, or to purchase any other product or service.
The proposed consent judgment also would require Linc II and Busler to disclose in writing all specific, non-refundable fees before soliciting money from consumers for job placement services. Finally, the settlement contains various record keeping and reporting provisions designed to assist the FTC in monitoring the defendants' compliance, and would permit the Commission to reopen the case should the defendants be found to have misrepresented their financial condition. The settlement requires the court's approval to become binding.
The Commission vote to approve the settlement for filing in court was 5-0. It was filed in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Orlando Division, March 12. The FTC received significant assistance in this action from the Florida Attorney General's Division of Economic Crimes, and the Better Business Bureau of Central Florida.
NOTE: This consent judgment is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission by the defendant of a law violation. Consent judgments have the force of law when signed by the judge.
Copies of the consent judgment and consumer brochures associated with Project Career Sweep will be available shortly from the FTC's web site at www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC's Public Reference Branch, Room 130, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-326-2222; TTY for the hearing impaired 202-326-2502. To find out the latest news as it is announced, call the FTC NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710.
(FTC File No. X960083)
(Civil Action No. 96-642-CIV-ORL-18)
Office of Public Affairs
202-326-2161 or 202-326-2180
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