The Federal Trade Commission and the State of Arizona halted an operation that took consumers' money by allegedly holding out false claims that it could help them get a job with the federal government. A settlement, reached as part of the FTC's ongoing efforts to protect consumers in financial distress, permanently bans the defendants from selling employment-related products or services.
According to the complaint against Government Careers Inc., Richard Friedberg, and Rimona Friedberg, the defendants falsely told people they could get federal jobs if they paid $119 for study materials that would help them pass an exam, even though in many cases there were no exams for the jobs or there were no jobs. The defendants also charged consumers $965 for career counseling services, such as resume editing and employment exam preparation, and demanded advance payment, even after stating that consumers would not have to pay the fee until they got a government job.
The complaint further alleged that Government Careers marketed its services by advertising on job search websites such as Careerbuilder.com or Yahoo! Hot Jobs and in local newspapers. Its ads looked like postings for "Postal Jobs," "Wildlife Jobs," "Border Patrol [agents]," or "Administrative Support and Clerical" jobs. The court temporarily halted the operation, pending resolution of the case.
The settlement order's ban on selling employment-related services will take effect six months after all parties have signed it, allowing time for a possible sale of a separate business owned by Richard Friedberg and Rimona Friedberg, Career Systems LLC, also known as Job Search Network LLC. In addition to banning the defendants from marketing employment products or services, the order permanently prohibits them from misrepresenting any goods or services, failing to disclose material facts about any goods or services, and violating the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act. It also bars them from selling or otherwise benefitting from customers' personal information, and from failing to properly dispose of such information as provided in the order. The order imposes a $363,761 judgment that will be suspended. The full judgment will become due immediately if the defendants are found to have misrepresented their financial condition.
The Commission vote approving the proposed settlement order was 4-0. It is subject to court approval. The FTC filed the proposed order in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona.
NOTE: This proposed order is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission by the defendants that the law has been violated. Settlement orders have the force of law when approved and signed by the District Court judge.
To learn how to avoid these kinds of scams, read the FTC's Federal and Postal Job Scams: Tip-offs to Rip-offs.
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