One of the key players in the I Works scheme that allegedly took more than $275 million from consumers via deceptive “trial” memberships for bogus government-grant and money-making schemes has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that he and 12 shell companies in his name violated federal law.
Scott Muir, along with Jeremy Johnson and nine others, was named in a complaint the FTC filed in December 2010. The court subsequently froze the assets of Johnson and 61 corporate defendants and appointed a receiver over their assets to help ensure that money can be returned to consumers if the case is resolved in the FTC’s favor. The FTC reached a settlement with two of the defendants in November 2013.
The settlement order against Muir bans him from selling, and from owning or having a financial interest in any business that sells, forced upsells. It also prohibits him from being an officer, director, or manager of any business, or acting as a signatory on any account for any business, or applying for any merchant account for any business, unless he controls, participates in, or has knowledge of the daily operations of the business.
In addition, the settlement order permanently prohibits Muir from (1) failing to make several key disclosures to consumers, including the total cost to buy a product and all material terms and conditions of any negative-option feature or continuity program, and (2) making a number of material misrepresentations, including that government grants are generally available to individuals to pay personal expenses, or that consumers will be able to find such grants by using the defendants’ materials.
The order bars Muir from violating the Electronic Funds Transfer Act and imposes a judgment of more than $2.5 million, which will be suspended based upon Muir’s inability to pay upon surrender of all interest in his 12 shell companies and assets frozen by the court. The full judgment will become due immediately if he is found to have misrepresented his financial condition. Litigation continues against the remaining defendants.
The Commission vote approving the proposed consent judgment was 4-0. The judgment was entered by the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada on April 7, 2014.
NOTE: Consent judgments have the force of law when approved and signed by the District Court judge.
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 2,000 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. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.
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