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FTC Sending Refunds to Consumers who Invested in Deceptive Sanctuary Belize Real Estate Development Scheme Operated by Repeat Offender Andris Pukke
In November 2018, the FTC announced that a federal district court in Maryland issued an order temporarily shutting down the largest overseas real estate investment scam the FTC has ever targeted. According to the FTC, the scam was established by Andris Pukke, a recidivist scammer currently living in California, and he perpetuated it even while serving a prison sentence for obstruction of justice. The alleged scheme took in more than $100 million, marketing lots in what supposedly would become a luxury development in Central America known by several names, including Sanctuary Belize, Sanctuary Bay, and The Reserve. The FTC alleged that the defendants misled consumers when selling these lots, lying about how risky investments in the development were, how the development was funded, what would be done with money paid for lots, what amenities the development would have, the timeframe those amenities would be built, consumers’ ability to resell lots, and Andris Pukke’s involvement. Several defendants settled prior to the January 2020 trial.
In late August 2020, the district court issued its verdict, finding in favor of the FTC. In early 2021, the court issued final orders against Andris Pukke, Peter Baker, Luke Chadwick, John Usher, and the corporate defendants, limiting what types of business they can engage in moving forward and entering a $120.2 million judgment against them. The defendants appealed and largely lost. During the appeal, Luke Chadwick settled, turning over certain assets and agreeing to a modified order further limiting the types of business he can engage in. After the appeal, the district court entered an order confirming that Andris Pukke, Peter Baker, and John Usher must turn over $120.2 million as well as the corporate defendants and their assets to compensate their victims. In August 2023, the FTC sent approximately $10 million to consumer defrauded by the Sanctuary Belize investment scheme.
Agency Information Collection Activities; Prop. Collection; Comment Request; Extension (Business Opportunity Rule)
FTC Sends Nearly $2.4 Million to Raging Bull Customers After the Company Agrees to Settle Charges of Bogus Earnings Claims
As a result of a Federal Trade Commission lawsuit, investment advice company WealthPress has agreed to a proposed court order that would require it to refund more than $1.2 million to consumers and pay a $500,000 civil penalty for deceiving consumers with outlandish and false claims about their services.
The U.S. Department of Justice, on behalf of the Federal Trade Commission, and the Wisconsin Attorney General, filed suit against Consumer Law Protection and related companies, along with their owners and operators, Christopher Carroll, George Reed, Louann Reed, Scott Jackson, and Eduardo Balderas for scamming consumers—mostly older adults—out of more than $90 million in a massive timeshare exit scam.
New Analysis Finds Consumers Reported Losing More than $1 Billion in Cryptocurrency to Scams since 2021
Federal Trade Commission Cracks Down on Warrior Trading For Misleading Consumers With False Investment Promises
Online Investment Site to Pay More Than $2.4 Million for Bogus Stock Earnings Claims and Hard-to-Cancel Subscription Charges
Remarks of Chair Lina M. Khan Regarding the Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Earnings Claims
Operators of Investment Coaching Scheme Banned from Industry and Ordered to Pay Millions in Redress to Defrauded Consumers
FTC Sends Full Refunds Totaling Over $2 Million to Consumers who Lost Money Through Deceptive Direct Mail Publications Scheme
The FTC sued a publisher called Agora Financial, LLC, alleging that it tricks seniors into buying books, newsletters, and other publications that falsely promise a cure for type 2 diabetes or promote a phony plan to help them cash in on a government-affiliated check program. According to the FTC’s complaint, Agora Financial and some of its affiliates target publications, including The Doctor’s Guide to Reversing Diabetes in 28 Days (The Doctor’s Guide), primarily at older consumers nationwide, as well as pitching them on a fake scheme to cash in on Congress’ Secret $1.17 Trillion Giveaway. The FTC announced a proposed order settling the allegations against all defendants in February 2021.
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