A U.S. District Judge held Barry Taylor, of Franklin, North Carolina, in civil contempt for resuming fraudulent sales of business opportunities in violation of a 1996 stipulated settlement with the Federal Trade Commission. In a ruling from the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, after finding that Taylor's deceptive practices cost consumers at least $656,257, Judge Anne C. Conway entered a judgment against him in that amount. The order also bans Taylor from any future involvement in the advertising, promotion, marketing and sale of any franchise or business venture, and requires him to relinquish assets frozen by a March 23, 2000 court order.
In seeking the civil contempt judgment, the FTC alleged that Taylor violated the 1996 order by selling greeting card rack and other business opportunities through his North Carolina company, Chapel Hill Enterprises, LLC. According to FTC court filings, Taylor has induced consumers to invest up to $49,000 each for greeting card racks, pay telephones and vending machines since at least 1998.
Taylor misrepresented the amount of money consumers would earn from their investments, falsely promised that he would help them find locations for their products, and misled consumers into believing that he was a representative of Freedom Greeting Cards, the company that sold him the cards for his greeting card racks. Taylor also failed to provide refunds to dissatisfied consumers.
Taylor was one of the defendants targeted in "Project Telesweep," a joint federal and state government crackdown on business opportunity fraud. In its 1995 complaint against Taylor and his company, Telecommunications of America, Inc., of Altamonte Springs, Florida, the FTC charged that Taylor, Robert Diehl and Stephen Jonathan Burns used a variety of deceptive tactics when offering pay telephone business opportunities. They allegedly made false earnings claims; used "shills" as phony references; falsely promised that locating companies they recommended would find profitable locations for the pay telephones; and understated the amount of start-up costs consumers would pay to set up their pay telephones, according to the FTC.
The order finding the defendant Taylor in contempt for violating the 1996 order was entered in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Orlando Division, on October 5, 2000.
Copies of the October 2000 contempt order, as well as previous documents associated with this case are available from the FTC's web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC's Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. The FTC works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them. To file a complaint, or to get free information on any of 150 consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357), or use the complaint form at www.ftc.gov The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies worldwide.
Office of Public Affairs
Stephen Gurwitz or Nancy Pineles
Bureau of Consumer Protection
202-326-3272 or 202-326-2484
(Civil Action No. 95-693-CIV-ORL-22)