One of the Utah-based defendants’ corporate names was Vision Solution Marketing, but you need to hear their sales pitch to get a sense of how they peddled their big-money “business coaching” services to consumers. In addition to imposing multi-million dollar judgments, FTC settlements ban the defendants for life from selling business coaching or development services. But you really should listen to these phone calls.
The FTC filed suit in May 2018, alleging that Jared Rodabaugh, Justin Larsen, and related corporate defendants called consumers to persuade them to sign up for pricey business coaching services. How did they select their targets? In a pernicious form of “recycling,” they used contact information obtained from two separate get-rich-quick operations that were also the subject of FTC law enforcement.
According to the FTC, the defendants’ sales reps promised that consumers who bought their services could make big bucks online. In one call, a pitchman claimed that for people who bought their $10,000 program, their foolproof methods made it “almost impossible” to make less than $3,000 to $5,000 a month: “We don’t have any students we’ve built the business for that have ever failed. There’s just – there’s literally no way to fail.” (Interested in how these types operate? Listen in on a recording of their line of patter, which the FTC introduced in court.)
Once consumers turned over their savings, what did they get in return? Not much, alleged the FTC. Often it was just generic information about how to list product on online auction sites. In other words, that “no way to fail” program seriously failed consumers. They didn’t get a viable business, they earned little or no money, and they often ended up in an even deeper financial hole.
But the FTC says that was just one part of the defendants’ scheme. In addition to pitching “business coaching” services, they upsold a “business development” program. One lure on the defendants’ hook was the false promise that they had cozy relationships with lenders who would extend corporate credit with no personal liability. For example, in this recorded pitch, the salesman claimed new businesses could get a line of corporate credit in three to four weeks.
But rather than business loans, all consumers got were more calls from more high-pressure salespeople, this time encouraging them to apply for multiple personal credit cards.
The settlements impose an $8.4 million judgment against Rodabaugh, Vision Solution Marketing LLC, and Ryze Services, LLC, and a $6.75 million judgment against Larsen, VSM Group LLC, and Specialized Consulting Solutions LLC. Both judgments will be partially suspended after the defendants surrender certain assets, including the corporate defendants’ bank accounts.
Thinking about going into business? The FTC has resources to help you spot a swindle.