At the Federal Trade Commission’s request, a federal court has imposed a $26.9 million judgment against the operator of a phony work-at home scheme who lied about his financial assets in an effort to hide them from the FTC when he agreed to settle with the agency in 2010.
Jonathan Eborn was one of the marketers behind a work-at-home scheme that operated under names such as “Google Money Tree,” “Google Pro” and “Google Treasure Chest” and advertised a low-cost kit, claiming consumers would earn $100,000 in six months. In 2009, the FTC charged Eborn and others with using the scheme to lure consumers into divulging their financial account information and failing to disclose that they would be charged $72.21 a month.
Under the settlement, the defendants were banned from negative option marketing and from making misrepresentations to consumers. In addition, they gave up more than $3.5 million in cash and other assets – the money was returned to consumers in 2012. Eborn was excused from liability for the vast majority of a $29.5 million judgment (the total consumer injury) based on sworn financial statements that purportedly showed his inability to pay. Under the terms of the settlement, if any defendant misrepresented their financial condition, the full judgment would become due.
On June 4, 2014, the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada found that Eborn hid at least $274,828.80, by failing to report cash and assets and by misrepresenting his control over certain businesses. The court also found that Eborn failed to report his residence and his acquisition of more than $33,100 in personal property. Based on these findings, the court reinstated the full judgment of $26.9 million against Ebon.
“In determining the amount of assets a defendant must provide in settlement, the FTC often relies on a defendant’s sworn financial statements and requires the defendant to agree that any misrepresentations on those statements will trigger a much larger judgment,” said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “The court’s decision to impose the full judgment should serve as a lesson to all defendants that lying to the FTC has serious consequences.”
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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