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FTC Wins $478 Million Award in ‘Easy Money’ Scam Case

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Aug. 23 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Federal Trade Commission said the operators of three “get-rich-quick” systems were ordered to pay $478 million for deceiving almost 1 million consumers with phony money-making claims.

The court order represents the largest litigated judgment ever obtained by the agency and is part of its efforts to stop scams that prey on financially distressed consumers, the FTC said today in a statement.

One system was sold with the promise that customers could “quickly and easily earn substantial amounts of money by purchasing homes at tax sales in their area ‘free and clear’ for just ‘pennies on the dollar,’ and then turning around and selling these homes for full market value or renting them out for a profit,” the FTC said in its June 2009 complaint.

“This huge judgment serves notice to anyone thinking of using phony get-rich-quick schemes to defraud consumers,” Jeffrey Klurfeld, director of the FTC’s western division, said in today’s statement. “It’s also a reminder to consumers that they should be skeptical about these types of easy-money claims.”

John Beck Amazing Profits LLC, John Alexander LLC, and Jeff Paul LLC were among the defendants named in the case.

The court found that despite the marketers’ easy-money claims, almost all the consumers who bought the $39.95 systems lost money.

The case is FTC v. John Beck Amazing Profits LLC, 2:09-cv-04719, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).

To contact the reporter on this story: Sara Forden in Washington at sforden@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.

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