FTC Charges More Defendants and Violations in Matter of Grant Connect, LLC; FTC Approves Final Order Settling Charges That Transitions Optical, Inc. Used Anticompetitive Practices to Exclude Rivals

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FTC Charges More Defendants and Violations in Matter of Grant Connect, LLC

The Federal Trade Commission has charged additional defendants and violations in the matter of Grant Connect, LLC, a company that allegedly deceptively promised government grants to consumers, and failed to adequately disclose that those who bought their products or services would be enrolled in continuity plans with significant monthly fees, primarily for other unrelated products. The FTC’s July 2009 complaint also alleged that the defendants debited consumers’ bank accounts without their authorization.

The FTC filed an amended complaint adding four individual defendants – Kyle Kimoto, Michael Henriksen, Johnnie Smith, and Tasha Jn Paul – as well as 15 new corporate defendants. The amended complaint also adds five new counts, charging the defendants with participating in three additional deceptive scams, and with using phony testimonials to convince consumers to purchase their products and services. Specifically, in addition to the grant scam that was the focus of the original complaint, the amended complaint alleges that the defendants sold: 1) online shopping club memberships that were deceptively marketed as general purpose lines of credit; 2) phony work-at-home business opportunities marketed using false and unsubstantiated earnings claims; and 3) dietary supplements supposedly containing acai berries that were marketed using baseless health claims.

The FTC vote authorizing the staff to file the amended complaint was 4-0. It was filed on April 21, 2010, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada, and is available now on the FTC’s Web site and as a link to this press release. (FTC File No. 092-3126; Civ. No. 2:09-CV-01349; the staff contact is Roberto Anguizola, Bureau of Consumer Protection, 202-326-3284. See press release dated August 20, 2009, at http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2009/08/grantconnect.shtm.)

FTC Approves Final Order Settling Charges That Transitions Optical, Inc. Used Anticompetitive Practices to Exclude Rivals

Following a public comment period, the Federal Trade Commission has approved a final settlement order in the matter of Transitions Optical, Inc., and sent letters to members of the public who submitted comments. The final order settles charges that Transitions, the nation’s leading manufacturer of photochromic treatments that darken corrective eyeglass lenses, used anticompetitive practices to maintain its monopoly and increase prices. Photochromic treatments are applied to lenses to protect the eyes from harmful ultraviolet (UV) light. Treated lenses darken when exposed to UV light and fade back to clear when the UV light diminishes.

The FTC vote approving the final order was 3-0-2, with Commissioners Edith Ramirez and Julie Brill not participating. (FTC File No. 091-0062; the staff contact is Linda M. Holleran, Bureau of Competition, 202-326-2267. See press release dated March 3, 2010, at http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2010/03/optical.shtm.)

Copies of the documents mentioned in this release are available from the FTC’s Web site at http://www.ftc.gov and from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580. Call toll-free: 1-877-FTC-HELP.

(FYI 17.2010.wpd)

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