In March 2022, the FTC issued an administrative complaint against Denver-based HomeAdvisor, Inc. – a company affiliated with Angi – alleging it used a wide range of deceptive and misleading tactics in selling home improvement project leads to service providers since 2014, including small businesspeople operating in the “gig” economy.
Every year the FTC brings hundreds of cases against individuals and companies for violating consumer protection and competition laws that the agency enforces. These cases can involve fraud, scams, identity theft, false advertising, privacy violations, anti-competitive behavior and more. The Legal Library has detailed information about cases we have brought in federal court or through our internal administrative process, called an adjudicative proceeding.
The Federal Trade Commission authorized a lawsuit in federal court to block the proposed merger between virtual reality (VR) giant Meta and Within Unlimited, the VR studio that markets Supernatural, a leading VR fitness app. Formerly known as Facebook Inc., Meta sells the most widely used VR headset, operates a widely used VR app store, and already owns many popular VR apps, including Beat Saber, reportedly one of the best-selling VR apps of all time, which it markets for fitness use. The agency alleges that Meta’s proposed acquisition of Within would stifle competition and dampen innovation in the dynamic, rapidly growing U.S. markets for fitness and dedicated-fitness VR apps. A federal court complaint and request for preliminary relief was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California to halt the transaction.
The Federal Trade Commission filed an administrative complaint and authorized a federal court lawsuit to block Illumina’s $7.1 billion proposed acquisition of Grail—a maker of a non-invasive, early detection liquid biopsy test that can screen for multiple types of cancer in asymptomatic patients at very early stages using DNA sequencing. Illumina is the only provider of DNA sequencing that is a viable option for these multi-cancer early detection, or MCED, tests in the United States.
The complaint alleges the proposed acquisition will diminish innovation in the U.S. market for MCED tests, which could be used to detect up to 50 types of cancer. Most of these types of cancer are not screened for at all today, and the MCED test could save millions of lives around the world. The trial began on Aug. 24, 2021. On May 20, 2021, the FTC authorized staff to dismiss its federal court complaint for Preliminary Injunction and Temporary Restraining Order.
Dissenting Statement of Commissioner Phillips Regarding the Commercial Surveillance Data Security Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
Dissenting Statement of Commissioner Wilson on the Commercial Surveillance Data Security Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
Statement of Commissioner Slaughter Regarding the Commercial Surveillance Data Security Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
Statement of Chair Khan Regarding the Commercial Surveillance Data Security Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
Statement of Commissioner Bedoya Regarding the Commercial Surveillance Data Security Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
The Federal Trade Commission referred a complaint to the Department of Justice alleging that Adam J. Harmon and two companies he controls falsely told consumers that personal protective equipment they marketed during the pandemic, as well as light fixtures they sold, were made in the United States. The complaint alleged that Harmon and ALG made numerous false and misleading claims that their PPE products were all or virtually all made in the United States, even though the products were wholly imported, or incorporated significant imported materials or subcomponents. The defendants also falsely stated that their products were U.S.-origin respirators, certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety (NIOSH). Under the proposed order, Harmon and his companies must: stop making deceptive U.S.-origin labeling and advertising claims, provide substantiation for all Made in USA and COVID-19-related claims, and pay a $157.683.37 civil penalty.
The Federal Trade Commission required ARKO Corp. and its subsidiary GPM to roll back anticompetitive provisions of their acquisition of 60 Express Stop retail fuel outlets from Corrigan Oil Company last year. The complaint alleged that as originally proposed, the agreement not to compete that ARKO and GPM required Corrigan to sign as part of the acquisition harmed customers in local retail gasoline and retail diesel fuel markets throughout Michigan and Ohio. The order required them to amend a non-compete agreement they imposed on Corrigan, agree to obtain prior approval from the Commission before acquiring retail fuel assets under certain circumstances, and return to Corrigan five retail fuel outlets, among other provisions. On Aug. 9, 2022, the Commission announced the final consent agreement in this matter.
The Federal Trade Commission is taking action against healthcare company Benefytt Technologies, two subsidiaries, former CEO Gavin Southwell, and former vice president of sales Amy Brady, for lying to consumers about their sham health insurance plans and using deceptive lead generation websites to lure them in. According to the FTC complaint, Benefytt also illegally charged people exorbitant junk fees for unwanted add-on products without their permission. The proposed court orders require Benefytt to pay $100 million in refunds and prohibit the company from lying about their products or charging illegal junk fees. Southwell and Brady will be permanently banned from selling or marketing any healthcare-related product, and Brady will also be banned from telemarketing.
The Federal Trade Commission imposed strict limits on JAB Consumer Partners’ future acquisitions of specialty and emergency veterinary clinics as a condition of JAB’s proposed $1.1 billion acquisition of specialty and emergency veterinary services provider SAGE Veterinary Partners, LLC. The Commission also alleged that the acquisition was likely to be anticompetitive in three geographic markets, ordering divestitures for various types of veterinary care in and around Austin, Texas, in and around San Francisco, California, and in and between Oakland, Berkeley, and Concord, California, and it ordered divestitures in these market. On Aug. 5, 2022, the Commission announced the final consent agreement in this matter.
Opendoor Labs Inc. promised to revolutionize home selling by offering to buy
consumers homes for market value while reducing transaction costs. It promised to provide speed and certainty to home sellers while saving them thousands compared to selling on the market or selling traditionally, as the company describes such sales.
Although Opendoor generally delivered on its promises to provide a faster and more certain transaction, it did not save consumers money. In fact, consumers who sold to Opendoor typically lost thousands compared to what they would have made on the market. Contrary to the company's marketing, it made submarket offers and had associated costs higher than in traditional sales. The company's marketing and the opacity of the transaction, however, left
consumers unaware that they had lost money.
The Federal Trade Commission took action against payment processing company First American Payment Systems and two of its sales affiliates for targeting small- and medium-sized businesses. The FTC alleges that the defendants made false claims about fees and cost savings to lure merchants, many of whom had limited English proficiency. Once merchants were enrolled, the defendants withdrew funds from their accounts without their consent, and made it difficult and expensive for them to cancel the service. Under a proposed federal court order, the defendants will be required to return $4.9 million to harmed businesses, stop their deception, and make it easier for merchants to cancel their services.
The Federal Trade Commission sued apparel company Lions Not Sheep Products, LLC, and its owner Sean Whalen for falsely claiming that its imported apparel is Made in USA. According to the FTC’s complaint, the company added phony Made in USA labels to clothing and accessories imported from China and other countries. The FTC’s proposed order requires Lions Not Sheep and Whalen to stop making bogus Made in USA claims, come clean about foreign production, and pay a monetary judgment. On July 28, 2022, the Commission announced the final consent agreement in this matter.
The Federal Trade Commission and a group of 18 states sued national jewelry retailer Harris Jewelry to stop the company from cheating military families with illegal financing and sales practices. According to the complaint, the jewelry company deceptively claimed that financing jewelry purchases through Harris would raise servicemembers’ credit scores, misrepresented that its protection plans were not optional or were required, and added the plans to purchases without consumers’ consent. The complaint also includes a charge that the jewelry company violated the Military Lending Act, the FTC’s first action under this Act.