Marketers who targeted financially strapped Americans by selling a variety of supposed work-at-home and other money-making opportunities will give up their ill-gotten gains under a settlement agreement with the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC’s complaint against the defendants was part of a broader crackdown in 2010 on work-at-home scams called “Operation Bottom Dollar,” which resulted in law enforcement actions against seven operations that targeted job seekers.
The settlement order against Independent Marketing Exchange, Inc. and its principal, Wayne Verderber, II, imposes a judgment of $919,000, which will be suspended when the defendants turn over three rental properties, a Mercedes Benz, precious metals, and other assets. If it is determined that the financial information the defendants gave the FTC was untruthful, the full amount of the judgment will become due. The settlement order also bans the defendants from marketing or selling work-at-home and mystery shopping opportunities and from assisting others in doing so. They also are barred from making deceptive claims about goods and services and are required to provide proof for earnings claims they make.
The FTC’s complaint, filed on February 2, 2010, alleged that the defendants falsely represented that consumers were likely to make substantial income from work-at-home opportunities, and made other misrepresentations. The defendants also did business as National Data Management; N.D.M.; Global Mailing Services; G.M.S.; Independent Mailing Services; Independent Mailing Services, Inc.; I.M.S.; Independent Shoppers Network; Independent Shoppers; Success At Home; Success-At-Home Mailing; IMEX; IMEX, Inc.; and Continental Publishing Company; according to the complaint.
This alleged scam and others in the Operation Bottom Dollar Sweep harmed consumers nationwide. The Operation Bottom Dollar defendants held out false promises that consumers would get help finding jobs in the federal government, as movie extras, or as mystery shoppers, or that they could make money from home by stuffing envelopes or assembling ornaments.
The Commission vote approving the proposed consent judgment was 5-0. The FTC filed the proposed consent judgment in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, and it was signed by the judge on April 11, 2011.
NOTE: This consent judgment is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission by the defendant that the law has been violated. Consent judgments have the force of law when approved and signed by the District Court judge.
Copies of the complaint and stipulated final judgment and order are available from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580.
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 1,800 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.
(FTC File No. X100034; Civil Action No. 1: 10-cv-00568-NLH-KMW)
(Independent Marketing Exchange NR)
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