FTC alleges MOBE tells a whale of a tale with misleading money-making claims

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The company’s name is MOBE – pronounced Mōb, not Moby – but according to a lawsuit filed by the FTC, the defendants tell quite a fish story to the consumers they hook with money-making promises.

The nine corporations and three individuals named in the complaint sell “business education” products through web ads, direct mail, and live events. (MOBE stands for “My Online Business Education.”) The defendants claim to have a “simple 21-Step” system consumers can implement to make substantial income “without creating your own products” and “without dealing with customers.” Pitching a “master plan to massive paydays with ease,” they promise that “average people with no prior experience online are depositing $1,250, $3,300, and even $5,500 commissions ” into their bank accounts “on auto-pilot.”

When consumers visit the defendants’ website, they’re taken to a registration page for the 21-Step System, which the defendants initially offer for $49 or less. But that’s just the start. The 21-Step system turns out to be a series of videos. The initial ones offer vague teases about “funnels that have paid out millions and millions of dollars in commissions to people just like you who went through this training” and assurances that later steps will reveal the “secret” method for generating substantial income online. Ultimately, the defendants explain that the “missing ingredient” to making money through the MOBE system is to buy additional tiered memberships and then earn commissions by getting other people to sign up with MOBE, too. According to the defendants, the higher the membership, the greater the commission. Just how pricy are those upper-level memberships? The “Gold Masterclass” costs consumers $4,997 while the “Diamond Mastermind” sets people back a staggering for $29,997.

According to the complaint, the defendants encourage people to place their own social media ads, create websites, use copy-and-paste emails, and record testimonials to get others to sign up for MOBE. They also sell members add-on products – like the email addresses of people likely to buy business opportunities. In addition, the defendants repackage their “system” and sell it under other names. According to one ad, consumers can “discover how a poisoned, brain-damaged man … RAKES IN A 6-FIGURE INCOME FROM HOME AND HOW YOU CAN TOO, GUARANTEED.” (The … and the ALL CAPS are in the original ad.) They also market the “Patriot Funnel System” with the promise that people will “DISCOVER THE SHOCKING $97,337 SECRET A WAR VET UNCOVERED FROM HIS SWEAT-BOX ROOM IN AFGHANISTAN.” The pitch to older consumers and retirees is a so-called “Surefire Way to Create a Six-Figure Retirement Income in Less Than 12 Months.”

But regardless of how the defendants package the system online or at live events, the FTC alleges that the primary thing MOBE sells is more MOBE memberships. As a result, the FTC says that very few people – if anybody – achieved the advertised results and that many consumers found themselves in an even deeper financial hole. That should come as no surprise to the defendants, who themselves admitted in a buried fine-print hyperlink that the “average Consultant, which includes both active and inactive members, generates less than $250 per year.”

What about buyers who want to take the defendants up on their prominent “100% risk-free” promise that “We Guarantee You’ll Be Satisfied With Your Course and Coaching In 30 Days, Or We’ll Happily Give You Your Money Back”? According to the complaint, the defendants often failed to honor their refund policy or imposed onerous hoops through which dissatisfied consumers had to jump.

Filed in federal court in Florida, the lawsuit challenges the defendants’ earnings claims and refund representations. The Judge issued an ex parte temporary restraining order against principals Matthew Lloyd McPhee (in most MOBE promotions, he goes by Matt Lloyd), Susan Zanghi, and Russell W. Whitney, Jr.; MOBE Ltd.; and eight related corporations. But even at this initial stage, this case – and other recent FTC actions challenging allegedly deceptive money-making promises – suggests that people interested in supplementing their income should be on alert.

Small business owners or others interested in additional earnings are wise to be wary of “systems” that promise substantial passive cash, especially when the system depends on selling others the same “opportunity.” When promoters claim to have the “secret” to making big bucks online, the needle on your malarkey-ometer should be in the red zone. The FTC has free resources to consult before sinking cash into a purported money-making venture.

Edited on August 16, 2018 to add:  Looking for more information about this case? Read What you need to know if you were a MOBE customer on the FTC’s Consumer Blog.

Comments

I was very up front on not knowing how to use the computer and they kept upselling me and even finding me credit cards to pay for it all, debt over 75,000.00 and they even knew I’m on disability. I do believe that if you have a sales background with computer skills and are OUTGOING. It might work if you have unlimited funds. And again I was studying 6 to10 hours a day 6 days a week to get off disability. Everyone was told about disability everyone. Never had a sponsors name or information???? Left to hang myself because I want a life.

I was very up front on not knowing how to use the computer and they kept upselling me and even finding me credit cards to pay for it all, debt over 75,000.00 and they even knew I’m on disability. I do believe that if you have a sales background with computer skills and are OUTGOING. It might work if you have unlimited funds. And again I was studying 6 to10 hours a day 6 days a week to get off disability. Everyone was told about disability everyone. Never had a sponsors name or information???? Left to hang myself because I want a life.

I worked sat and night trying to make it with mobe. I had more than 200 in my down line. I emailed them daily. I even gave them my phone number, sent them my picture, gave them freebies, etc. one person called a couple emailed. I was beginning to believe that these people were not even real people that I paid for. I called several and always got answering machine with no reply. You have to pay thousands to get anything. I made approximately 1% of what I. Put in to mobe. I’m broke now and on bankruptcy. You people who say I didn’t do the work are wrong. I was a platinum member and attended all masterminds and all other events. Took notebook after notebook of notes and even tried to get hired with mobe so I could make money to put into ads. They didn’t want me because I didn’t have enough money. I started out buying all the levels quickly and believe me, they were really interested in me but when they found out I was broke, they lost interest quickly,

Totally agree with you.

I agree that the material is good. I wanted it to help me with my work. Not to be a MOBE consultant.

Totally agreed with Breeze. I am a foreign consumer and have invested over 86,000$ in MOBE just a short month ago. My personal experience with MOBE has been that unfortunately as FTC’s complaint/motion and many other consumers find, the MOBE “coaches” or “consultants” keep selling something in their conversations/emails/calls/events etc. In particular, my “traffic coach” is to teach me buy more stuffs from her instead of really guiding me through the necessary steps to set up online marketing campaigns, otherwise my progress will be extremely slow. Selling never stops after purchases. It does look like pyramid scheme or something fraudulent. However, I agree that some of the actual course materials and the business coaching are good and applicable to any business. I personally hope that FTC will, as they have prayed for relief in their complaint/motion, request the court’s order to redress injury to consumers worldwide (not just Americans) for rescission or reformation of contracts, restitution, the refund of monies paid, and the disgorgement of ill-gotten monies. This is especially important to those new joiners who have not really got the full purchase delivered yet.

I totally agree. If ever mobe survives from this trial, the FTC should request the court’s order to reform the contracts and refund of monies paid especially for those who have not got the full purchase delivered yet.

I agree with you about Mobe being educational.Some people that work for mobe have mislead some of us. I feel I was pressured into joining by how easy it was to make lots of money.I was told it doesn't take much money to make the big money. That is not true

I joined MOBE to learn how to advertise on the web and social media, It was not a loss for me. It's not MOBE, it's the affiliates advertising/ I was never told by MOBE that I would make make money that easy or fast, They said we would actually have to put in some time, money and effort. So if those who lost money didn't put in the effort, time or money of course they wont make any.

Mobe is really a scam company, people earn big commissions from those who they add in their downline. For example, when someone buys Gold, the upline earns directly 1,250. and so on. One thing, those who come to the live events are all MObe consultants, those who earn commissions from downline. They are trained to rob more and more. I paid thousands of dollars, now i want to get it back. Is there any way to send my complaints to FTC, against MOBE.

If you are a MOBE Community Member on Facebook, Matt just posted a link so you can get info about what is going on. Near the bottom of the info in the link there is another link you can click on to file a complaint with the FTC. I just got done filing a complaint. MOBE is a scam and we deserve to get our money back!

The only reason anyone would say that Mobe is a scam is if they didn't do the work. Matt has always been upfront about putting in the work it's going to take to be successful. Their training gives you everything you need to know about building a business online. Matt has always said to build your own business and you can promote My Online Business Education to start making some money online. He has always been upfront about the people who make descent money online have their own business and promote Mobe on the back end. He has never said that you'll get rich promoting Mobe. Each program you buy into has different training. Everyone who has joined Mobe knows this.
If the FTC would have actually did some work and researched the different levels of training they would have found this out. I believe that real investigative work should be done before just shutting a company down. You shouldn't just take the words of people who weren't putting in the effort that it truly takes to be successful. The FTC needs to realize the 80/20 rule exists in everything. That includes business. Most are looking for easy money. When they realize that it takes a lot of work they tend to complain about being scammed or ripped off.

Hi John. What you are referring to as "scam" is literally the definition of commission based payment - which is the structure ALL companies use for their in-house and outsourced sales and marketing teams. That is NOT a scam, its perfectly legal to pay commission for services or products sold. This structure exists in over 80% of businesses in the world, including giants like amazon and almost all small businesses who want to outsource their marketing. MOBE is actually one of the only marketing agencies that only pays the direct affiliate who brought in the sale, rather than everyone on top, which means the structure is actually quite fair in comparison to many other marketing companies. My personal opinion is, MOBE has good quality business training courses, passionate and dedicated staff who were committed to deliver what MOBE had promised its customers (at least as far as I encountered) and their commission structure is fair and solid. The ONLY issue I believe is the way the products were being promoted by some affiliates as a make money opportunity, rather than learning opportunity. If MOBE had exact same structure, courses, staff, prices, process, etc - but only promoted "learning" rather than "getting rich" they would not have ANY legal problems. Anyhow that is my view.

As for your complaint - you did so by writing here. FTC is legally required to read these comments - so you have made your voice heard.

it is a stealing scheme. Authority needs to stop it.

I invested $16000 USD and regretted every single penny I spent. The mentor kept sending me in circles, I went into debt, they encouraged me to call the banks and take out a line of credit, bend the truth on my taxes and when I asked for help from them.. crickets! Because of this I’ve gone into depression, end up working two jobs to barely pay my bills. I would testify My experience in a court of law in a heartbeat.

I understand the concern regarding the recruiting aspect, and I agree that Mobe places TOO MUCH emphasis on recruitment. However, the recruitment is only to expand the business. The training itself is really good, and anyone who claims they have been scammed is simply not using the training and expecting the Company to do the work for them.

It's not unlike Law School. Every Law Student comes in with the hope of one day being a Robert Kardashian, but less than 1% do. Is Law School, then, a scam? I understand the need for checks and counterchecks, but I urge you to simply enforce a change of focus on Mobe. Their Marketplace his literally over a hundred other products that can easily bring extreme revenue to both the company and the affiliates. I do not believe that just because some people don't do the work, that those who do should be penalized.

very well said.

I couldn't agree more Victor.

It's possible that the people who are allowed to purchase the materials could have been screened more carefully (but as you say even people who have to qualify for University aren't likely to use their studies to the end that they're intended)

To the FTC - I've been a MOBE customer and affiliate since 2012 and have used the MOBE materials effectively as part of my own curriculum (ie. the people who have purchased from me have done so with eyes wide open and knowing that it was the actual content we were after to support our coaching time together). There has been trial and error and lots of growth in the years since.

If there are nuances to the marketing that should be corrected (and there may well be! I have generally used the "me as coach" track vs the 21 Steps so I'm not in the loop as to what needs fixing) - by all means fix it!

But meanwhile, preventing consumer access to the materials that we purchased and the masterminding events that have never been anything other than top notch and life impacting - that turns YOU into the bad guys. Interfering with content consumers due to some corrections and remedies that can be made more even handedly feels unjust and punitive to those who have been happy customers.

If you really mean to find a way through that serves ALL consumers... and not just pay the lawyers who will otherwise be the first beneficiaries of a lengthy court battle...

A permanent or even long shut down is not the way.

You're penalizing the greater compliment of customers.

Find a middle ground.

Please.

Thank you for you attention in this matter.

I signed up for the Silver/Gold masterclass, and grew kind of frustrated with the process. And how vague the 21 steps are. I never paid the full amount because I’m too broke. Perhaps it’s because I wasn’t applying myself very hard to this new venture. I want to believe you’re right about this. Time will tell.

And WHAT other products are you talking about? Please emphasize. Have you purchased or evaluated such products? Just give me an overview on one or two please

I worked very hard sometimes more than 12 hours a day. Then was stopped because I didn't get financing to purchase more. I was stopped at step 18 and when I asked for a refund I was told no refund. I then filed a complaint and was allowed to continue, By then the damage was done and I was done. I see many people who lost money and were made bankrupt. I want my money back and there should be no problem if this is such a great company. Otherwise they scam you and should be out of business. Period

How can I get some of the $50K I have invested? I haven't made a cent in 9 months and they want you to buy more coaching for $25K and up just to guarantee a salary of $100K.

Will some of these investments they have be able to refund those they swindled out of money?

Your inquiry I think is ridicule. You don't know what you are talking about. You have invested 50k and why you didn't make one cent? Surely because you didn't do anything and you expected the money will come in magically.
There are a lot of people who have invested and earned a lot of money implementing the strategies of the training, so if you didn't earn it's your fault, not Mobe's fault.

I agreee that the MOBE course material is excellent but MOBE did run in fact a pyramid structure, with products attached.

Personally I don’t understand how the US FTC could close down an international company. Hundreds of employees are left with a salary and Matt Lloyd is not allowed to send a quick email to anyone.

Despite this, my complaint after investing $30k was that MOBE we’re always trying to up sell me before I received the products and training already paid for. I sent 10 people to the home business summit HBS at $497 for two people. They All complained that they learnt absolutely nothing at the 3 day event and we’re just pressured into buying $10-30K packages.

My wife was even told not to come back for day 3 if she wasn’t interested in upgrading.

I fail to understand why MOBe did not simply deliver an outstanding 3 day seminar then some people are likely to upgrade after being impressed. That’s how I run my seminars!

MOBe went to far with no regard to people’s financial situation and I Feel for those Who have lost their investment.

James, thank you for your sympathy for us heavily invested in MOBE. I paid in HBS one month ago over 30k and before I could attend any mastermind or coaching, and then this happened.

However, based on my 21 step experience, interaction with my coach and some learning material I did receive before this went down, I have to say my experience has been a little different. I did learn entire facebook advertising in HBS. So thats my 500$ worth. Also, I can't agree MOBE is pyramid - here is why: 1- in pyramid structure, the money from new "recruitment" flows upward to all levels above the newly joined. MOBE however, only paid commission directly to the person who brough in the sales - no one else. It does not flow up. 2- In pyramid structure the "value" created by sales of products or services only flows inside of the company as cashflow. But in a legitimate business the value is A - cash for the company B -value to the customer independent of the cashflow inside the company. For example, if you buy a TV, the seller receives value in form of cash, and you receive value in form of a product you need and are going to use in your personal life. Lets look at MOBE: the most CRITICAL question for pyramid scheme assessment is "Can I use this product for my own personal benefit, independent of MOBE cashflow"? The answer for me has been, yes I can. I learned FB advertising and I used it for my own business growth, nothing to do with MOBE.

The ONLY issue is that these courses should not have been promoted as come get rich. They should have been sold as come learn with us. Then it would have been 100% legitimate. I don't think they need to change anything else...

My two cents.

"Personally I don’t understand how the US FTC could close down an international company. Hundreds of employees are left with a salary and Matt Lloyd is not allowed to send a quick email to anyone"

I think the issue is that all their physical servers are in the US. If they had them in another country, they could have maintained the access I believe, and only "disconnect" US sites.

I agree with you Breeze, your comments make sense. There is hardly anything wrong with the way MOBE operates. In April I invested as a Gold member with the view to invest shortly as a Titanium member in the next couple of months. I am really enjoying the 21 Step course and I am looking forward to selling quality business courses to struggling business owners here in Australia and in any other English speaking countries around the word. I have always had good vibes with Matt Lloyd, he is a genuine chap who was a struggler and who now wants to share his hard earned knowledge with other struggling people around the world. MOBE has paid over $110 millions in commissions since the start of the company in 2011. The recipients are not complaining. Only the people who could not manage to earn $1 in commissions are filing complaints and are causing stress to all the other MOBE members who love the system and who want to continue. Lile Breeze said, there are a few minor issues that could be addressed and rectified. Does any body know or work for a perfect business or company?

Where did you get the :"MOBE has paid over $110 millions in commissions". just curious as to where this information can be found.

"Only the people who could not manage to earn $1"? Oh, you mean my 85 year old in-laws who were bilked out of $40k who know nothing about the internet? They didn't find much quality in the classes, only continuous upselling. Thank you FTC for taking action. This is like a business cult, and like every cult it has its true believers who have been told questioning is being negative and to blame the victims for their sin of disbelief.

I agree with you Breeze, James, and Thierrystar. MOBE is not a business that practices pyramid scheme. It is a very good company started by Matt Lloyd with reliable products...

Having read through these complaints and accusations against MOBE, I hope the guys will be given adequate opportunity to explain and defend their business practices. I have taken many of the paid courses and I found them very great, helping me to take my business to the internet.You even have free access to hordes of other free guides to help you succeed. FTC hammer too brutal on global businesses such as this that are not of US origin while imposing no responsibility on American consumers themselves to exercise caution. No one is being blindfolded to buy, Are these teeming consumers all so stupid or foolish not to see all these issues? FTC should be fair to businesses like these by not allowing judgement by people who are envious of MOBE's success or by those who are ignorant of internet business practices and ethics. Judgement by internet illiterates or MOBE's competitors will be grossly unfair.

Joseph, I initially looked up to Matt Lloyd, but eventually got disappointed coz I believe he cares more for those who are successful, but those who are struggling are just leave out to struggle, and to spend more for mentoring which is very difficult. I have not made any public complain of my situation, but since I found this issue that FTC has received a lot of complaints., I feel that I should share my experience as well. Had they follow through with their guarantee to refund if we feel the business does not work for us, he will refund, no questions ask. Had he kept his guarantee promise, I don't think there will be any complaints.

The FTC ought to tread careful and show some responsibility here to those who've been affected most harshly by this i.e. those who've just recently invested into this business but not yet made any or enough sales to recoup their losses.
To simply just shut mobe down and walk away leaving all the mess behind is akin to hypocrisy and does not go any way to protecting the consumer as it proports to.

There any many affiliates who have been doing this for a long time and have made countless times return on their investments, these people have fed this machine well and will get to keep their money made off the back of all those who joined the scheme too late on and potentially lost all of their life's worth. These super affiliates can walk away and start something else or enjoy the spoils of what was their run whilst it lasted, whereas those who were drawn more recently are left in financial ruin.

So my question to the FTC is, instead of just parading yourself as a wreckless juggernaut, what are you going to do to ensure the front end consumers to this business are compensated?

I can only hope you'll provide an answer to this and soon for the sake of everyone concerned.

Agreed Matt! The FTC has way too much power, and pretty much does whatever it wants. What about people like me FTC? I have just gotten started. Way to take the wind out of my sails. I hope this blows over quickly.

[There any many affiliates who have been doing this for a long time and have made countless times return on their investments]

This is true but ALL affiliates made that money by recruiting other affiliates who were then asked to recruit affiliates. This is illegal. After i invested $30K i was urged to buy the Mentorship program at $100K even though i had not received my original package!

MOBE did this from day one, even at the IM Freedom event and 3-day HBS summits. False promises, non delivery of what people paid for, then up-sell after up-sell

I invested over $100k in this company and made $176.00 in 8 months. Granted, I learned quite a bit about on-line advertising, but I had to pay for that too. My goal is to get a complete refund so I can invest in a legal marketing business.

How are you getting a refund?

Many Government entrusted businesses sell hype; look at the GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE INSURANCE COMPANY (Geico) "15 minutes can save you..." I called there for a quote and it was 33 minutes and the could not give me a competitive quote unless they reduced my coverages to state minimums (no thanks). Hype is used in almost ALL advertising, MOBE is no different. BUYER BEWARE has been the war cry for years and we all know this as a living standard. Needless to say, you only get out of ANY investment what you put into it. IF you follow MOBE'S huge educational program (and they do encourage to use what you learn in ANY business) and work the program like your life depends on it, you WILL be financially rewarded. Stop picking and choosing who you want to shut down based on the government's OWN fears. Realistically, most colleges today ask you to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars(many graduates cannot or will not get the job they studied for) which you must repay over your lifetime and our students are asked to pledge allegiance to one political thought process (brain washing). I'll take MOBE in its current iteration over a college education any day, however, should they take out the hype and become a wonderful online education system, I would support that as well, Choose America, it is ALWAYS your personal choice.

Well said!

I agree. Matt himself always stressed this is applicable for any business, and he was even incentivizing that to some extent with bonuses etc.

Unfortunately though, many of promoters did not treat MOBE as an education business, they promoted "come get rich with us". And here is the problem with that: If you join MOBE to sell MOBE, lets say you sell to 25 people in your life time, and they sell to 25 people in their lifetime and so on, in a short cycle of 7-8 layers, we reach 6Billion population on planet earth because for every person to be successful there should be at least 25 more to buy same thing - which means UNSUSTAINABLE exponential growth leading to market saturation. Lets say I am paid highest commission level on these 25, I would make about 500k in my lifetime. If I am to make more money, since market is fully saturated, I would have to "steal" customers from others - in other words for me to succeed someone else has to fail. Its This is THE ROOT of problem with re-selling. Its not possible for everyone to achieve the results "guaranteed", no matter how much you work, because there is a physical ceiling on earth population. Its Math. However, if you were to buy these same courses and instead of re-selling, use it to thrive in your own business, we will not face market saturation in over a few hundred years, because the growth is more linear. It all boils down to one simple step: Sell the courses for learning purposes. Become a 100% education company, rather than a "lifestyle" business.

I lost money. Who should I contact to get my money back. Currently I am CANCER patient and its getting worse due to severe tension.

I joined MOBE back in July 2017 and I have had a suspicion something was off after I joined at Platinum level in October and have gotten very little help. The only way they will help is if I pay out for a mentorship program. I continued to work with my traffic coach but still would hardly make any commissions. Not to mention the high cost of advertising. I just hope the FTC can make MOBE have to pay back the original membership fees. I'm barely getting by having to pay all these credit cards and not making any money from their "SYSTEM"

Any chance of getting a refund ?

I am in complete agreement with Breeze. Just like her, I purchased the program for the training for other business ventures and agree that the training provided is very good and fair for the investment and I did not even invest at the $30,000 level. I am very disheartened that my training given to me per my investment is not accessible because of this shutdown. Honestly, everyone that invested in MOBE had training available at their level of entry to them along with lots of tools. What people do with that is their responsibility. It is not a scam, however, people do have to do the work....just like in any other business. Unfortunately, you cannot control the affiliates and what they say. Very sad for everyone.

I agree Charli. MOBE training is awesome. It totally helped me in so many ways regarding operating and running my own business. I realize a alot of people complaining were out looking for the get rich quick programs - I never saw or used MOBE that way. It is dis-heartnenig to lose the programs I paid for and found much value in. Heres to hoping the FTC can actually work with MOBE and get passed this.

Agree Charli. Although a business is actually responsible to make sure its products are promoted in fair manner. MOBE needs to have processes in place to enforce ethical promotional practices for all affiliates and should revoke licence to sell its products if any affiliate does not comply.

Any idea on how to get a refund? I bought my stuff and ahve been implementing step for step their system with a whopping $6.30 sale since February. I even bought more education. I'd like refund also. How do we get it with all sites shut down?

$23,004.91 in debt because of MOBE My own business Education
can FTC help me recoup that money please ?
I owe credit card company about $28,000. right now I am making minimum payments on them and after a few
months they will start charging me Interest I don't know what I am going to do to pay them back because I am
living on a fix Income please help me.

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