An operator who used deceptive claims to market commodities, stock, real estate and other investment courses has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that his deceptive claims violated federal law. The proposed settlement would bar the defendant from misrepresenting the value of practice "paper trading" to purchasers of his investment courses and require him to disclose, clearly and conspicuously, the risks associated with investing.
The FTC charged Ken Roberts and his three companies - The Ted Warren Corporation, The Ken Roberts Institute, Inc., and the Ken Roberts Company - with violating the FTC Act by using their Web sites to claim deceptively that consumers who successfully "paper trade"- or practice trade without actually investing - are more likely to profit when they engage in actual trading. According to the FTC, they also failed to disclose the risks associated with the trading techniques recommended in their investment courses.
The proposed consent order would prohibit the respondents from falsely claiming that purchasers who successfully "paper trade" are likely to make significant profits when they invest funds in the market. The order also would require that the Web sites offering investment courses contain disclosures outlining the inherent risks associated with investments in volatile markets. The disclosures include warnings that investing is risky; that paper trading does not mean consumers will make money when they actually invest; that investors can lose money; that with certain investments, consumers can lose more money than they invest; that many experts contend that most individual investors who trade commodity futures or options lose money; and that past results don't guarantee future success. The consent also contains standard record keeping requirements to allow the agency to monitor compliance with its order.
The FTC vote to accept the proposed consent agreement was 5-0. An announcement regarding the proposed consent agreement will be published in the Federal Register shortly. It will be subject to public comment for 30 days, until April 23, after which the Commission will decide whether to make it final. Comments should be addressed to the FTC, Office of the Secretary, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580.
Copies of the complaint and proposed consent agreement 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.
(FTC File No. 9923298)