Three individuals and the company they control have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they deceived consumers in a telemarketing scheme that took millions of dollars from thousands of people who were trying to start home-based Internet businesses. The settlement order bans them from selling business coaching services and business opportunities.
According to the FTC, Internet Teaching and Training Specialists LLC (ITT) sold a business coaching program provided by Guidance Interactive, which settled with the FTC in June 2017 for alleged deceptive practices. Most people who bought the business coaching program did not develop a successful online business as ITT promised, and instead ended up heavily in debt.
As alleged in the FTC’s complaint, the defendants used a variety of deceptive sales tactics and falsely promised that their clients were likely to earn substantial income, their training programs were personalized and open only to qualified participants, and they needed consumers’ financial information to determine if they qualified.
The defendants are Victoria A. Hansen, David R. Coffin, Jr. and Devan W. Leonard, also known as Devin Leonard, and ITT, also doing business as Internet Teaching and Training and as ITT Specialists. They were charged with violating the FTC Act and the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule.
In addition to the bans imposed on the defendants, the settlement order imposes a $10.2 million judgment that will be partially suspended upon payment of $660,000 and the surrender of certain assets. The full judgment will become due if the defendants are found to have misrepresented their financial condition.
The Commission vote authorizing the staff to file the complaint and stipulated final order was 2-0. The U.S. District Court for Nevada entered the order on January 2, 2017.
The FTC would like to acknowledge the assistance of the State of Utah Department of Commerce, Division of Consumer Protection, and the State of Nevada Department of Business and Industry, Consumer Affairs Division during the investigation of this case.
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. Stipulated final orders have the force of law when approved and signed by the District Court judge.
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