A Federal Trade Commission lawsuit has led to the permanent end to a business opportunity scam known as Ganadores Online and Ganadores Inversiones Bienes Raíces that targeted Spanish-speaking consumers with brazen and false money-making pitches for online businesses and real estate investments.
Under the terms of proposed federal court orders, several defendants in the case—including the companies behind Ganadores, the companies’ owners and managers Richard and Sara Alvarez, and an employee who played a key role in the marketing of the scheme, Bryce Chamberlain— will be permanently banned from selling ecommerce or real estate coaching services and will be required to turn over substantial assets to the FTC, which will be used to provide refunds to consumers harmed by the scam.
“Ganadores scammed hard-working people with false promises of financial freedom, leaving many consumers with nothing but crushing credit card debt,” said Samuel Levine, the Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “We have taken decisive action to end that egregious conduct and recover ill-gotten gains, and we will continue to vigorously pursue those who engage in violations of the laws we enforce.”
The FTC sued Ganadores in June 2023, charging that the scam targeted Spanish-speaking consumers with false or unfounded earnings claims and other deceptive promises relating to business opportunities, including that its “infallible system” could help consumers find financial freedom, replace their day jobs, and give their families financial independence. The complaint charged that after consumers paid significant amounts—sometimes tens of thousands of dollars—for training and coaching, they discovered that Ganadores failed to deliver the training and mentoring that they promised and that they did not make any money.
When consumers realized that Ganadores’ promises were false and sought refunds, the defendants often refused, telling consumers they had only three days to seek a refund. The complaint also charges that while the company’s marketing and sales were conducted largely in Spanish and many of its targeted audience had limited or no English fluency, the company’s contracts with consumers, including key disclosures, were often provided exclusively in English.
The settlements include two proposed court orders: one order against the companies and Richard Alvarez and Sara Alvarez; and the other order against Bryce Chamberlain. Both orders include a number of key provisions:
- Ban on ecommerce and real estate coaching: The order would permanently ban the defendants from offering any business coaching on ecommerce or real estate.
- Prohibition on misleading earnings claims: The orders would require the defendants to be able to back up claims they make about how much consumers can earn using any product or service that the defendants market or sell.
- Prohibition on other practices: The orders would specifically prohibit the defendants from repeating the unlawful practices that they engaged in.
- Turn over assets: The order against the companies and the Alvarezes would require them to surrender funds, real estate, and other assets with a total value of approximately $6 million. The order against Chamberlain requires him to turn over $35,000 to the FTC.
The orders contain a total monetary judgment of $29,175,000, which is partially suspended but for the asset transfers described above, based on the defendants’ inability to pay the full amount. If the defendants are found to have lied to the FTC about their financial status, the full judgment would be immediately payable.
The case against defendant Robert Shemin is ongoing.
The Commission vote approving the stipulated final order was 3-0. The FTC filed the proposed order in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.
NOTE: Stipulated final orders or injunctions have the force of law when approved and signed by the District Court judge.
The FTC staff attorneys on this matter are J. Ronald Brooke, Jr. and Virginia Rosa of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. The FTC would like to thank the Orlando Police Department for their valuable assistance in this matter.
The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition and protect and educate consumers. Learn more about consumer topics at consumer.ftc.gov, or report fraud, scams, and bad business practices at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Follow the FTC on social media, read consumer alerts and the business blog, and sign up to get the latest FTC news and alerts.