A California telemarketer who touted movie paraphernalia as excellent investments will be barred for life from telemarketing and will pay $150,000 in consumer redress to settle Federal Trade Commission allegations that he violated federal law, including a 1994 order barring him from telemarketing investments.
In April, 1994, a federal district court froze Benjamin Valenty’s assets and those of his firm, National Art Publishers, of La Jolla, CA, after the FTC alleged that they ran a deceptive scheme to sell vintage movie posters. The agency alleged that Valenty and National Art Publishers and Distributors, Inc. falsely promoted posters sold at prices several times their market value as excellent investments that would generate quick and sizeable profits for investors. To settle the FTC charges at that time, a judgment was entered that barred Valenty, for life, from telemarketing any investments.
According to a stipulated modified judgment filed in U.S. District Court in San Diego, since the 1994 ban became effective, Valenty has been a part-owner of International Art Galleries of Costa Mesa, CA, doing business as International Art Publishers (IAG). The modified judgment contains a number of allegations by the FTC to support the judgment’s order provisions. The FTC alleges in the judgment that IAG has telemarketed Disney collectables, claiming they are excellent investments that could be quickly resold at or above the prices that IAG charges the investors, and that comparable collectables almost always sell for many times the price that IAG charges. In fact, according to the FTC, at the prices IAG charged, the Disney collectables are not excellent investments and consumers who purchased them are likely to lose money if they try to sell them in the short term.
To settle the FTC’s allegations, Valenty will be permanently banned from engaging in any telemarketing or from assisting others engaged in the business of telemarketing. In addition, Valenty will pay $150,000 for consumer redress.
The Commission vote to accept the settlement for filing in court was 5-0. It was filed yesterday in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, in San Diego, and requires the court’s approval to become binding.
NOTE: This consent judgment is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission of a law violation. Consent judgments have the force of law when signed by the judge.
Copies of the consent order and other legal documents are available 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 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest news as it is announced, call the FTC NewsPhone recording at 202-326- 2710. FTC news releases and other materials also are available on the Internet at the FTC’s World Wide Web site at: http://www.ftc.gov
(FTC File No. X940 042)
(Civil Action No. 94-0518 R(CM))