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You’ve heard about the deceptive tactics of government imposters. According to a proposed FTC settlement, a Florida company made misleading Made in USA claims, falsely described itself as “veteran-operated,” and didn’t live up to its promise to donate 10% to military charities. It looks like Uncle Sam needs to watch out for an imposter we call Uncle Sham.



ExotoUSA complaint 1

On its website and through third-party platforms, Old Southern Brass (also known as ExotoUSA) sells giftware – glasses with patriotic quotes, decanters shaped like air rifles, pens and bottle openers made from bullet casings, and the like. The company’s Made in USA claims couldn’t have been clearer:  “All of our products are made right here in the United States of America,” “100% USA made,” and “Just know that all of our products are 100% American made and nothing says ‘Merica like making products right here at home for ‘Merica man or woman alike.”


Old Southern Brass also sounded the bugle about its supposed connection to the military, claiming “As a veteran-operated business in the United States, our mission is to give back to fellow American patriots who have served and protected our country.” What’s more, the company advertised a bottle opener as “Handcrafted from an authentic 50 cal casing that was previously used by the U.S. military,” informing shoppers that “since the casing is once fired, it may show small signs of use consistent with its history.” Furthermore, on every page of its website, the company represented,“10% Donated to Military Service Charities.”



ExotoUSA complaint 2

But according to the FTC complaint, Old Southern Brass’ red, white, and blue promises turned out to be red, white, and untrue. The complaint charges that many of the company’s products are “wholly imported from China or contain significant imported content.” U.S. Customs and Border Protection even contacted Old Southern Brass about missing or incorrect foreign country-of-origin labels on merchandise coming from China. And that “authentic” bottle opener wasn’t really made from a casing fired by the military. The FTC also alleges that Old Southern Brass isn’t operated by veterans and doesn’t donate 10% to military charities.

The proposed settlement includes liability totaling more than $4.5 million, with all but $150,000 suspended – a remedy contingent on the accuracy of sworn financial statement submitted by ExotoUSA and corporate officer Austin Oliver. In addition, the proposed order against the company and Oliver prohibits any false or misleading claims, including misrepresentations about an affiliation with or support for the military or veterans. In keeping with the FTC’s longstanding Enforcement Policy Statement on U.S. Origin Claims and the Made in USA Labeling Rule, the order also spells out the proof they’ll need to substantiate future Made in USA and assembly representations. ExotoUSA and Oliver also must notify individual consumers, resellers, and third-party trade customers to tell them “our company isn't veteran-operated, and we don't routinely donate 10% of our sales to military service charities. Also, the products you bought probably weren’t all or virtually all Made in the USA. In fact, most of our products are imported from China.”


The FTC has more compliance resources on its Made in USA page for businesses. The other important take-away from this case is how seriously the FTC takes deceptive tactics that attempt to profit from a bogus association with the armed forces. America’s heroes and members of military families – also heroes in our book – deserve better. 

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Love of Countr…
January 22, 2024

Thank you for this article! We at Love of Country Clothing hear it all the time. Made in USA when they import shirts and print on them
In the USA. That’s not made in USA! Our products are made and printed in the USA. It’s not easy, and it’s expensive, but it’s what we feel is right. 🇺🇸

Harold Lee MULKEY
December 14, 2023

Thank you for a most excellent job

Jay C. Hansen
January 04, 2024

This should surprise no one. Capitalism is organized crime which relies on fraud and deception.

Ro Ru
January 10, 2024

Why did FTC let them off the hook with only $150,000 fine:

Instead of imposing at least half of what they found the company guilty for ($4.5 million)?

Instead of just making them inform the customers of their lies,

Why not make it mandatory that the company issue refunds to the victims who were deceived, if the customers wish for a refund?

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