The Federal Trade Commission is mailing 50,365 refund checks totaling more than $685,000 to consumers who were victimized by a bogus work-at-home and grant scam. As part of a February 2010 law enforcement crackdown, the FTC took action against Real Wealth and other schemes, alleging that they took advantage of the economic downturn to bilk vulnerable consumers by peddling various products that supposedly helped to generate income.
In an ongoing partnership with the AARP Foundation, the FTC will provide consumers receiving redress checks with contact information for the AARP Fraud Fighter Call Center. The center staff provide guidance about ways to avoid scams and stay safe.
The FTC alleged that Real Wealth, Inc. and its owner, Lance Murkin, preyed on the elderly, the disabled, and other consumers nationwide with a deceptive direct-mail campaign that marketed and sold booklets supposedly explaining how to earn money by working from home or applying for government grants.
The court agreed with the FTC that these claims were false or unsubstantiated, in violation of the FTC Act, and granted the FTC’s motion for summary judgment against the defendants.
Each consumer will receive $13.63, or 68 percent of the average amount lost, which was $20. The checks will be mailed by an administrator working for the FTC, and will expire 60 days after they are issued. The FTC never requires consumers to pay money or provide information before refund checks can be cashed. The FTC would like to thank AARP Legal Counsel for the Elderly for bringing Real Wealth to its attention.
Consumers with questions about the Real Wealth refund checks should call the refund administrator at 1-888-519-6918. For general questions about the FTC’s redress program, visit www.FTC.gov/refunds.
Consumers should carefully evaluate claims about work-at-home offers. For more information see: Business Opportunity Scams.
To learn about current scams and ways to stay safe, contact the AARP Fraud Fighter Call Center toll free at 1-800-646-2283, or www.aarp.org/wa. The call center has consumer education materials on a wide range of issues concerning fraud prevention and victim support. In past years, the call center provided peer counseling services to more than 500,000 consumers around the country.
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.