An operation that sold worthless prep materials for post office jobs that didn’t exist, will give up $105,000 to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that the scam violated federal law.
The FTC charged that the operation misrepresented an affiliation with the Postal Service, the availability of postal jobs, and that getting a passing score on a postal entrance exam guarantees applicants a job. The FTC also alleged that using their test preparation materials would not help anyone to pass the postal exam, contrary to the defendants’ claims, and actually contained false and misleading information.
The FTC alleged that, since at least January 2004, the defendants ran classified ads across the nation in employment guides and newspapers. The FTC alleged the ads led consumers to believe that the defendants were hiring for postal jobs and were connected with, or endorsed by, the USPS. One ad stated:
HIRING FOR 2004 POSTAL POSITIONS $15.00-$45.00+/hr
Federal Hire with Full Benefits *No Experience Necessary *Paid
Training and vacations *Green card o.k. Call 1-866-317-0558 Ext 4001
According to the FTC, the telemarketers assured consumers there were jobs available in the caller’s geographic area and that passing the exam required for postal employment would assure them a postal job. Consumers were charged a “registration fee” of $108.80.
In fact, applicants for many entry-level postal jobs are required to take a postal examination. But the tests are usually offered only every few years in any particular district. Also, there are no job placement guarantees based on score. If applicants pass the test by scoring at least 70 out of 100, they are placed on a register, ranked by their score. When a position becomes open, the local post office looks to the applicable register for that geographic location and calls the top three applicants. The score is only one of many criteria taken into account for employment. Information on postal jobs is available at the consumer’s local post office, and applicants generally receive a free packet of information about required exams. The exams test general aptitude, something that cannot necessarily be increased by studying. More information is available at the Postal Service Web site, www.usps.com.
The settlement announced today brings a permanent end to misrepresentations by the defendants that:
The order also prohibits the defendants from misrepresenting any material fact about products they are selling and enters a $2,093,183 suspended judgment against the defendants – the total amount of consumer injury. Based on financial documents filed by the defendants, they will pay $105,000 because they are unable to pay more. If the court finds that they misrepresented their financial status, then they will be liable for the full amount.
The defendants, Jeffrey Charles Lord and his company, Job Resources, Inc., are based in Tennessee. The FTC received invaluable assistance in this matter from the Postal Inspection Service and the Office of the Attorney General.
The Commission vote to authorize staff to file the complaint and stipulated final order was 5-0. The complaint and stipulated final order for permanent injunction were entered in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee on August 29, 2006.
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.
NOTE: This stipulated final order is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission by the defendant of a law violation. A stipulated final order requires approval by the court and has the force of law when signed by the judge.
Copies of the complaint and stipulated final order 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 in English or Spanish (bilingual counselors are available to take complaints), 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 thousands of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.