The FTC has obtained a $2 million summary judgment against the leader of a Canada-based scheme that defrauded U.S. businesses out of millions of dollars by billing for unauthorized listings and advertisements in non-existent business and travel directories, and for unordered and undelivered office supplies and consulting services.
According to the FTC’s complaint filed in October 2006, four defendants in Ontario operated a scheme that targeted businesses and municipalities in the United States, and a related scheme aimed at hotels and resorts in this country and more than 25 others.
The court order requires Michael Robert Petreikis to pay $2 million in redress for victims and bans him from marketing or selling business or travel directories and listings. The order also bars him from misrepresenting that consumers have a preexisting business relationship or that consumers purchased, have agreed to purchase, or owe money for business or travel directory ads or listings, office supplies, or consulting services. In addition, Petreikis is prohibited from collecting payments on any invoices the defendants sent prior to the court order, and from disclosing or benefitting from personal information obtained as a result of activities alleged in the FTC’s complaint. The order also contains record-keeping and reporting provisions to allow the FTC to monitor compliance with the order.
The final judgment and permanent injunction were entered by Judge Robert W. Gettleman of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
Petreikis, also known as William George Fisk, pleaded guilty to criminal charges in Canada related to his participation in the scheme and received a four-year prison sentence. (http://www.competitionbureau.gc.ca/eic/site/cb-bc.nsf/eng/02557.html)
The FTC investigated this case with the assistance of the Toronto Strategic Partnership, which, in addition to the FTC, includes the Toronto Police Service Fraud Squad, Telemarketing Section; the Ontario Provincial Police, Anti-Rackets Section; the Ontario Ministry of Small Business & Consumer Services; Canada’s Competition Bureau; the Royal Canadian Mounted Police; the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; and the United Kingdom’s Office of Fair Trading.
The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,500 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s Web site provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.