A U.S. District Court judge has found that the Federal Trade Commission has "shown a likelihood of proving" that four corporations, with offices in Merrillville and Crown Point, Indiana (near Chicago), through classified ads and telephone pitches, misled consumers by deceptively offering employment with the U.S. Postal Service. Judge James T. Moody, of the Northern District in Indiana, has issued a preliminary injunction on February 10, 1998, that prohibits the corporations and company officers from misrepresenting any material fact regarding any employment program, or employment with the U.S. Postal Service. The preliminary injunction, which also continues a previously ordered asset freeze on the corporate defendants, will remain in effect pending the outcome of a trial on the FTC's allegations.
In January, the FTC and the U.S. Postal Service announced a national effort to "Stamp Out Job Fraud." Eleven lawsuits and a comprehensive national consumer education campaign are the components of the effort aimed at stopping private companies that falsely promise Postal Service jobs at generous wages. In the Indiana case, the FTC filed charges against Think Achievement Corporation, National Answering Service, New Age Advertising Corp. and H.D. Davidson Advertising Corp. Individuals named as defendants were: Patricia A. Harris, President of Think Achievement; Harry D. Brankle, Sena Rager, and Tillwanner “Tee” Jackson, managers of National Answering Service; Ferron F. Harris, president, secretary and treasurer of National Answering Service; Steven F. Stucker, president, secretary and treasurer of New Age Advertising and also the secretary of Think Achievement; and Jill Robinson, president, secretary and treasurer of H.D. Davidson Advertising.
The FTC's complaint alleged that the defendants misrepresented: their affiliation with or endorsement by the US Postal Service; that permanent positions with the Postal Service were available in the geographic areas where they placed classified ads, and that the Postal Service was offering the exams for those positions; that consumers who purchased and reviewed printed materials from defendants were likely to achieve high scores on the exam for postal jobs; and that they paid full refunds to all consumers who requested them.
At the time it filed its complaint, the FTC asked for and the court granted a temporary restraining order, asset freeze and the appointment of a receiver to manage the corporate defendants. The February 10 preliminary injunction applies to all of the above-named defendants except Steven F. Stucker, who earlier agreed to an injunction..
In addition, on February 10, the FTC filed an amended complaint naming the following six additional defendants: The Answering Service, Inc.; The Rosewood Group; Career Advancement Corp.; Information Delivery Systems, Inc.; William H. Tankersley, principal officer of Career Advancement; and David L. Barnack, who does business as and is president of Information Delivery.
The amended complaint contains similar allegations as in the original complaint, and the court has issued a temporary restraining order as to the six new defendants. A hearing on the FTC's motion for a preliminary injunction for these defendants is scheduled to be held on February 24.
The Commission vote to file the amended complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Hammond Division, was 4-0, with Commissioner Mary L. Azcuenaga not participating.
NOTE: The Commission files a complaint when it has "reason to believe" that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. The complaint is not a finding or ruling that the defendant has actually violated the law. The case will be decided by the court.
Copies of the preliminary injunction, the amended complaint, the temporary restraining order, and other documents associated with "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, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-326-3128; 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.
(Civil Action No.: 2:98-CV-12-JM)
(FTC Matter No.: X98 0009)