FTC Returns More Than $23 Million To Consumers Deceived by Online Business Coaching Scheme, Including a Lower Bucks Resident
Earlier this month the Federal Trade Commission announced more than $23 million dollars to consumer who paid for My Online Business Education, or MOBE, a business coaching scheme that made bogus promises about how much money participants could make.
The Commission sued MOBE in 2018, alleging that the international operation targeted U.S. consumers—including service members, veterans, and older adults—through online ads, social media, direct mailers, and live events held throughout the country. MOBE falsely claimed that its business education program would enable people to start their own online businesses and earn substantial income quickly and easily using a “proven” 21-step system.
According to the complaint, consumers who paid the initial $49 entry fee for the 21-step program were bombarded with sales pitches for membership packages that cost thousands of dollars, which the defendants pressured them to buy in order to continue in the program. The defendants eventually revealed that their “proven system” required selling the same memberships to others in the hopes of earning commissions. Most consumers were unable to recoup their costs, and many experienced crippling losses or mounting debts.
One such consumer, and friend of the publication, was part of one of the groups of people targeted for the scheme. On the condition of protecting that person’s anonymity, they said they were truly pleased the whole ordeal is over.
I did my due dillegence and I thought it was me at first when the program didn’t work. I was a low end investor in this – they did high pressure sales and in 2018 FTC shut them down, the consumer said.
The money being returned to consumers today includes money that the Commission received in lawsuits against some of MOBE’s largest affiliates, such as John Chow and Michael Giannulis, as well as lawsuits against some of MOBE’s payment processors, such as Qualpay and Allied Wallet.
The United States Supreme Court ruled in 2021 that the Commission lacks authority under Section 13(b) to seek monetary relief in federal court going forward. The money being returned to consumers today comes from settlements and judgments that were entered before the Supreme Court’s decision. The Commission has urged Congress to restore the Commission’s ability to get money back for consumers
“I moved on. I consider myself lucky. I got money back and I am happy,” the fraud victim said.
In fact there was a moment there when the consumer became little concerned, in a moment of reflective levity about receiving the settlement funds.
Before the settlement information was made public I received a payment notification. I thought someone was trying to scam me. But after consulting with trusted friends and co-workers, and seeing the deposit among my financial statements I was really pleased,
The Commission sent out payments to more than 37,000 consumers who lost money to the MOBE scam. The vast majority of these payments will be made via PayPal, and those payments should be redeemed no later than April 28, 2022. The average payment amount is just over $633.
The consumer said a few thousand dollars was returned as part of the settlement the FTC coordinated.
“It’s too good to be true,” the consumer said.
If you’re a consumer and suspect you’re a victim of fraud, you can file a complaint, and obtain additional helpful information please click here.