The final defendant charged by the Federal Trade Commission in a business opportunity scheme that he falsely claimed would enable consumers to earn a significant income by affiliate marketing with websites of well-known companies such as Prada, Sony, Louis Vuitton, and Verizon has agreed to settle. Under the settlement, Benjamin Moskel, a former officer in the corporation, The Online Entrepreneur, will be banned from selling business and work-at-home opportunities.
The FTC action was part of a federal-state crackdown on scams that falsely promise jobs and opportunities to “be your own boss” to people who are unemployed or underemployed.
According to an FTC complaint filed in November 2012, the scheme, called the “Six Figure Program,” was sold as a purported no-risk opportunity for consumers to make money via their own website, by falsely claiming that, for $27, they could affiliate with well-known companies’ websites and earn commissions. After paying, consumers learned it would cost an extra $100 or more just to set up their websites.
In March 2014, the FTC announced a settlement with the other defendants in the scheme. The settlement order announced today permanently prohibits Moskel from having ownership in any non-publicly traded company that sells business or work-at-home opportunities, misrepresenting that consumers are likely to earn money and misrepresenting any material fact about a product or service; failing to disclose the terms of any offer before consumers provide billing information; and making a business opportunity, product, or service claim unless it is true and he can substantiate it. The order also bars Moskel from selling or otherwise benefitting from consumers’ personal information, and requires him to properly dispose of customer information.
The order imposes a judgment of more than $2.9 million, which will be suspended when Moskel has paid the income he earned from the scheme, $259,394, and surrendered certain bank accounts and personal property. The full judgment will become due immediately if he is found to have misrepresented his financial condition.
The Commission vote authorizing the staff to file the proposed final order was 5-0. The final order was entered by the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida on July 30, 2014.
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.
Office of Public Affairs
Barbara E. Bolton
FTC’s Southeast Region