About 27,600 Purchasers Paid for Worthless Materials
An operation that sold worthless prep materials for post office jobs that didn’t exist, will give up almost all of their assets to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that the scam violated federal law. The defendants will give up property worth about $45,000.
The FTC charged that the operation misrepresented an affiliation with the Postal Service, the availability of postal jobs, and that getting a score of 90 or better on a postal entrance exam guarantees applicants a job. The FTC also alleged that using their test preparation materials would not help anyone to pass the postal exam, contrary to their claims, and that the defendants misrepresented that the fee to purchase the materials was fully refundable.
According to the FTC’s complaint, the defendants ran classified ads touting the availability of jobs in local post offices. When consumers called the numbers listed in the ads, the defendants used a deceptive sales pitch to convince them that they were connected with or endorsed by the Postal Service. The court granted the FTC’s request to halt the deceptive claims pending trial.
The settlement announced today brings an end to that legal action and a permanent end to misrepresentations by the defendants that:
- they are connected with or endorsed by the Postal Service;
- postal jobs are currently available in consumers’ geographic areas where defendants’ advertisements appear;
- consumers who use defendants’ materials are more likely to pass the employment exam than those who do not use defendants’ materials;
- a passing score, or a score of 90 or better, on the postal exam will guarantee consumers a job with the Postal Service; and
- the fee to purchase defendants’ materials is fully refundable.
The order also prohibits the defendants from misrepresenting any material fact about products they are selling and enters a $3,042,000 suspended judgment against the defendants – the total amount of consumer injury. Based on financial documents filed by the defendants, they will pay $45,000 since they are unable to pay more. If the court finds that they misrepresented their financial status, then they will be liable for the full amount.
The defendants, Sean Terrance Asberry and his companies, National Testing Services, LLC; Exam Preparation, LLC; and Future Planning, LLC, doing business as Exam Prep, LLC and Registration Department, are based in Tennessee. The FTC received invaluable assistance in this matter from the Nashville office of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
The Commission vote to authorize staff to file the stipulated final order was 5-0. The stipulated final order for permanent injunction was granted in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee on May 24, 2006.
NOTE: This stipulated final order is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission by the defendant of a law violation. A stipulated final order requires approval by the court and has the force of law when signed by the judge.
Copies of the legal documents associated with these cases 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 the consumer 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 in English or Spanish (bilingual counselors are available to take complaints), 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 http://www.ftc.gov. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to thousands of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
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