A federal district court has issued a Temporary Restraining Order with Asset Freeze against an Orange County, California company that purportedly sold work-at-home medical billing opportunities. Data Medical Capital, Inc. and its owner Bryan D'Antonio, promised consumers that they could earn a minimum of $23,400 per year using their home computers to process medical bills for physicians with whom the defendants had established relationships. The Federal Trade Commission alleges that the defendants misrepresented their medical billing work-at-home opportunities by bolstering false earnings claims and misrepresenting the assistance that consumers would receive in getting medical billing work. The Commission has asked the court to continue the asset freeze, issue permanent injunctions and order the defendants to pay consumer redress.
The FTC filed its complaint in the U.S. District Court in the Central District of California against Data Medical Capital, Inc., doing business as DataMed and MedCo, and Bryan D'Antonio, also known as Brian D'Antonio. The defendants promoted and sold medical billing work-at-home opportunities via newspaper ads and an Internet web site, "www.medco.net".
According to the FTC, the scam worked like this: Data Medical advertised in the "help wanted" section of various newspapers seeking medical processors. A typical ad stated:
MEDICAL BILLING Nationwide company seeking Billers. PC required. No exp. necessary. Earn $31,500 plus. Call 1-800-262-6595.
The defendants' web site also encouraged consumers to call the listed toll-free number to learn more about the job opportunity. When consumers called, they were connected to telemarketers, who went into their sales pitch, emphasizing doctors' need for people to perform electronic medical billing. Consumers were told that the defendants would arrange for the consumer to receive generally between 150-250 claims per week from doctors with whom the defendants had business arrangements, and that consumers would earn from $3 to $5 per claim. Consumers were then told that in order to take advantage of the Data Medical opportunity all they would have to do is pay $299 - $399 for a software package, which would include the medical billing software, a tutorial and instruction manual, and the names of their prearranged physician clients. When consumers complained that the Data Medical opportunity had been misrepresented, the defendants would not refund the purchase price.
The FTC complaint alleges that the defendants falsely represented that consumers who purchased the medical billing opportunity would earn a minimum of $23,400 per year. The complaint also alleges that the defendants falsely represented that they would arrange for consumers to receive medical billing work from physicians with whom the defendants had established relationships. According to the FTC, consumers, in fact, did not earn the promised income, and the physicians referred to did not even know of Data Medical and did not want or need the services offered.
The Commission vote to authorize staff to file the complaint in district court was 4-0.
The Commission filed the complaint in the U.S. District Court, Central District of California, Southern Division, in Santa Ana, on October 14, 1999. The judge signed the TRO with Asset Freeze on October 15.
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 news release are available from the FTC's web site at http://www.ftc.gov and copies of the complaint are also available from the FTC's Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357); TDD 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 File No. 992 3272)
(Civil Action No. SACV991266 AHS)