Analysis of Proposed Consent Order to Aid Public Comment
The Federal Trade Commission has accepted, subject to final approval, an agreement containing a consent order from CompuTrade LLC, a corporation, and Bernard Lewis, individually and as an officer of the corporation (together, "respondents").
The proposed consent order has been placed on the public record for thirty (30) days for receipt of comments by interested persons. Comments received during this period will become part of the public record. After thirty (30) days, the Commission will again review the agreement and the comments received, and will decide whether it should withdraw from the agreement or make final the agreement's proposed order.
Respondents sell and distribute computer software and training for buying and selling foreign currencies on a daily basis. They advertise on their Internet Web sites, www.computrades.com and www.computrader.net. This matter concerns allegedly deceptive representations of the earnings and profit potential, as well as the extent of risk involved in using respondents' trading methods.
The Commission's proposed complaint alleges that respondents made unsubstantiated claims that users of respondents' currency trading program could reasonably expect to earn large profits of $500 to $750 or more per day, and as much as six or seven figures annually (i.e., more than $1,000,000); that users could reasonably expect to earn huge profits even if they had no previous experience in currency trading; and that testimonials appearing in the advertisements for respondents' currency trading program reflected the typical or ordinary experience of members of the public who use the program. In addition, the complaint alleges that respondents misrepresented that users of their currency trading program could reasonably expect to trade with little financial risk.
The proposed consent order contains provisions designed to prevent respondents from engaging in similar acts and practices in the future.
Part I of the proposed order requires respondents to have a reasonable basis substantiating any representation that users of respondents' currency trading program can reasonably expect to earn large profits: (1) of $500 to $750 or more per day; (2) of as much as six or even seven figures annually (i.e., more than $1,000,000); or (3) even if they have no previous experience in currency trading. Part I also requires respondents to possess a reasonable basis substantiating claims about the amount of earnings, income, or profit that a prospective user of any trading program could reasonably expect to attain, or about any financial benefit or other benefit from any trading program offered by respondents.
Part II of the proposed order prohibits respondents from misrepresenting that users of any trading program can reasonably expect to trade with little or no financial risk and from misrepresenting the extent of risk to which users of any such program are exposed.
Part III of the proposed order requires respondents to disclose, clearly and conspicuously, "CURRENCY [or STOCK, COMMODITY FUTURES, OPTIONS, ETC., as applicable] TRADING involves high risks and YOU can LOSE a lot of money," in close proximity to any representation they make about the financial benefits of any trading program. This disclosure is in addition to, and not instead of, any other disclosure that respondents may be required to make.
Part IV of the proposed order prohibits respondents from representing without a reasonable basis that the experience represented by any user, testimonial or endorsement of any trading program represents the typical or ordinary experience of members of the public who use the program; or respondents must disclose either what the generally expected results would be for users of the trading program, or the limited applicability of the endorser's experience to what users may generally expect to achieve, that is, that users should not expect to experience similar results.
Parts V and VI of the proposed order require respondents to keep copies of relevant advertisements and materials substantiating claims made in the advertisements and to provide copies of the order to certain personnel. Part VII requires CompuTrade to notify the Commission of any changes in the corporate structure that might affect compliance with the order. Part VIII requires that the individual respondent notify the Commission of changes in his employment status for a period of ten years. Part IX requires CompuTrade to file compliance reports with the Commission. Part X provides that the order will terminate after twenty (20) years under certain circumstances.
The purpose of this analysis is to facilitate public comment on the proposed order. It is not intended to constitute an official interpretation of the agreement and proposed order or to modify in any way their terms.