The Federal Trade Commission has asked a federal court for permission to charge three persons and five companies they control with improperly receiving at least $22 million from a scheme that allegedly bilked consumers out of more than $275 million with deceptive “trial” memberships for bogus government-grant and money-making schemes.
In December 2010, the FTC charged the I Works operation, controlled by Jeremy Johnson and nine other individuals, with violating federal law. The court subsequently froze the assets of Johnson and 61 corporations and appointed a court-supervised receiver to help ensure that money can be returned to consumers if the case is resolved in the FTC’s favor.
In the proposed amended complaint announced today, the FTC asked the court’s permission to name eight relief defendants who are not charged with participating in the I Works scheme but allegedly received ill-gotten gains from it that the FTC seeks to recover: Johnson’s wife, Sharla Johnson; his parents, Kerry and Barbara Johnson; Orange Cat Investments LLC; Zibby LLC; Zibby Flight Service LLC; KV Electric Inc.; and the KB Family Limited Partnership.
- Sharla Johnson allegedly received at least $5 million in funds and property, including a multi-million-dollar, 20,000-square-foot mansion in St. George, Utah, subsequently used to secure a $3.1 million home equity line of credit.
- Kerry Johnson allegedly received at least $1.6 million in funds and property, including about $1 million worth of silver coins and bars.
- Barbara Johnson allegedly received at least $77,500.
- Orange Cat Investments allegedly received at least $5.1 million in funds and assets.
- Zibby allegedly received more than $13 million.
- Zibby Flight Service allegedly received at least $2.5 million.
- KV Electric allegedly received more than $800,000.
- KB Family Limited Partnership allegedly received at least $1.75 million in funds and property, including some of the proceeds of the $3.1 million line of credit secured by the Johnson residence.
The Commission vote authorizing the staff to file the amended complaint was 5-0. The FTC filed a motion seeking court approval to file the amended complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada.
NOTE: The Commission files a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. The complaint is not a finding or ruling that the defendant has actually violated the law.
The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC's online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.
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(FTC File No. X110011)