Vocational Guides, Inc. (VGI) and its president, Timothy Scott Jackson, are permanently banned from promoting or selling employment services, and will pay approximately $191,600 in disgorgement and consumer redress as part of a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission. The settlement resolves the FTC's charges against VGI that were filed in February 2001 as part of "Stamp Out Job Fraud," a joint effort between the FTC and the U.S. Postal Service to stop the fraudulent sale of employment services.
According to the FTC's complaint, VGI placed classified ads in the employment sections of newspapers across the United States falsely claiming that entry-level Postal Service positions were locally available. The ads announced that jobs were available at generous wages and invited consumers to call a toll-free number to receive application and exam information. When consumers called, the complaint alleges that VGI misrepresented to consumers that their program was affiliated with or endorsed by the Postal Service; that permanent positions were available with the Postal Service in the geographic areas where the defendants placed the classified ads; that consumers who purchased the defendants' materials were likely to receive scores of 90 or higher on the Postal Service exam; and that consumers who purchased the defendants' materials were likely to obtain jobs with the Postal Service.
In addition to the permanent ban from promoting or selling employment services, the settlement prohibits the defendants from misrepresenting, in connection with the marketing or sale of any good or service:
- the benefit of using the good or service;
- the identity of the seller; and
- the affiliation of the seller with any government entity or other organization.
The settlement also prohibits the defendants from selling their customer lists.
Finally, the settlement requires VGI to pay more than $190,000 in consumer redress and/or disgorgement.
The Commission vote to file the stipulated final judgment was 5-0. The stipulated final judgment was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, Nashville Division. The court entered the order on July 27, 2001.
NOTE: The Stipulated Final Order for Permanent Injunction is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission by the defendants of a law violation. Stipulated Final Orders have the force of law when signed by the judge.
Copies of the stipulated final judgment, as well as other documents related to "Stamp Out Job Fraud," are available from the FTC's web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC's Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them. To file a complaint, or to get free information on any of 150 consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357), or use the complaint form at http://www.ftc.gov. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
Office of Public Affairs
(FTC File No. X010030)
(Civil Action No: 3-01-1070)