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A blueprint to wealth? Not so fast. And not so wealthy. The FTC says a business opportunity scheme known as “Blueprint to Wealth” has been targeting people who want to make money working from home, including older adults, with false promises of a proven system generating thousands a month in “passive income.” 

According to an FTC lawsuit filed against Samuel James Smith, Robert William Shafer, Charles Joseph Garis, Jr., and Business Revolution Group, Inc., consumers who bought into the recruitment-based business opportunity earned little to nothing from their investments. The FTC’s five count complaint alleges the defendants violated the FTC Act and the Telemarketing Sales Rule using a variety of sales tactics, including false and unsubstantiated earnings claims, to lure consumers to pay up to $21,000 for membership in their system. In exchange, says the FTC, the defendants promised consumers commissions on sales, access to Blueprint to Wealth digital products they could use and resell, a replicated done-for-you “sales funnel” with robocalls and YouTube ads, lead capture websites to recruit new members, and “closing” services to secure sales.

According to the complaint, defendants used telemarketing, unsolicited robocalls, including ringless calls, YouTube ads, and other means to promote the business opportunity and generate leads for sales. In a typical robocall defendants promised: “we do all the advertising, follow up, and sales calls for you, and then we split each sale with you 50/50. The average sale will earn you $3,500,” and touted “you can earn a full-time income with just a couple of sales a month.”

Next up? The FTC says the defendants made yet more earnings claims—at times claiming “I am generating $50,000+ per month”—to capture consumers’ interest and contact information by inviting consumers to fill out a form to gain “instant access” to the system.

But the “instant access” offer was just a ruse to get consumers further into the sales funnel that redirected them to a website overflowing with false earnings claims. Among other things, the website showed video testimonials of purportedly happy Blueprint to Wealth members claiming to be making thousands of dollars; shared images of “recent commission checks” ranging between $7,000 and $21,000; invited prospective members to “make more money every month than most people make in an entire year;” and urged them to get started by calling the “Success Coach Hotline.”

What was the “Success Coach Hotline?” According to the complaint, the defendants or their associates —posing as the company’s highest earners and mentors—used the “Hotline” to close sales and collect membership fees, making false earnings claims like promising consumers “an average ticket” of $10,000 in the first week after marketing begins.” The defendants pushed consumers to buy the highest membership possible in order to receive higher commissions on every sale. As detailed in the complaint, one defendant even urged an older consumer—a septuagenarian retiree in need of money—to make the investment to “get out of debt quicker.”

And what happened when people complained they weren’t making the promised earnings? Defendants blamed them for not doing enough and encouraged them to spend more money to make their investments more profitable.

You’ll want to read the five-count complaint for details about how the FTC says the defendants’ conduct violated the law, including about the defendants’ inconspicuous and ineffective disclaimers of earnings claims that often came only after the defendants’ endless stream of false or unsubstantiated claims about the money Blueprint to Wealth produces for its members, and in other cases, only after they’d already became members. Or, maybe you’re interested in the FTC’s charges that the defendants violated the FTC Act by making false and unsubstantiated earnings claims and by providing the means and instrumentalities for others to violate the FTC Act.

To put a halt to the alleged scheme, a federal court has entered a temporary restraining order in the case.

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