A U.S. district court has halted a phony job placement operation that allegedly stole money from job seekers by promising them full-time work, with benefits, that never materialized, the Federal Trade Commission announced today.
The court shut down the job placement operation until a hearing on a preliminary injunction can be held, and froze its assets. According to a complaint filed by the FTC, the scam took out ads in local newspapers around the United States. The ads urged job seekers to call an 800 number, where they got a pitch from telemarketers urging them to provide information about their work histories and to pay a placement fee that ranged from $89 to $195.
The FTC complaint charges that the defendants misled consumers by guaranteeing that they would land jobs making at least $25,000 a year if they paid the placement fee and provided the work history information. Consumers who did this did not get the promised jobs, however. Their repeated efforts to follow up with the defendants or ask for a refund were fruitless.
The Florida-based defendants charged in the case are Career Hotline, Inc., and its principal, Susan Bright, who also does business as Unique Flowers.
The Commission vote authorizing the complaint against the defendants was 4-0. The complaint was filed with the request for a temporary restraining order and entered by the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida Tampa Division on August 4, 2009. The court unsealed the complaint and temporary restraining order on August 10, 2009.
The FTC appreciates the assistance of the Pinellas County Office of Justice and Consumer Services, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, and the Office of the Attorney General of Ohio.
NOTE: The Commission authorizes the filing of a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. A complaint is not a finding or ruling that the defendants have actually violated the law.
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 1,500 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s Web site provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.