FTC Obtains Court Order against Woman Who Allegedly Helped Telemarketers Pitch Phony Money-Making Opportunities and Grants
A Utah woman who allegedly helped telemarketers bilk money from consumers is banned from telemarketing, payment processing, and selling grant and business opportunities under a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission.
According to the FTC, Jamie L. White enabled telemarketing operations to sell a phony grants program and a worthless moneymaking opportunity purportedly involving customized websites linked to Amazon.com. She supplied consumers with instructions on applying for grants that did not exist, and generic websites that could not generate enough web traffic to provide any of the promised income.
In addition, the FTC alleged that White provided the telemarketers with fraudulent merchant accounts to process consumer credit card payments. To accept card payments, a merchant needs an account with a financial institution that is a member of a credit card association such as MasterCard or Visa. In this case, the FTC asserted that the telemarketers could not meet the financial institutions’ standards for opening merchant accounts, so White circumvented the standards by using straw companies to open merchant accounts for the telemarketers.
White allegedly forged documents to create fictional financial histories for the straw companies, submitted consumer credit card transactions for processing through the fraudulent accounts, and provided misleading information to financial institutions to dispute consumer complaints about the telemarketers’ worthless offers.
The FTC charged White with violating the FTC Act and the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule. Under the settlement order, she is banned from telemarketing, selling grant- and business opportunity-related products and services, and acting as a payment processor, independent sales organization, or sales agent for payment processing services. She is also prohibited from making misrepresentations in selling any product or service, and from profiting from consumers’ personal information collected as part of the challenged practices, and failing to dispose of it properly.
The order holds White jointly liable for the judgment of more than $3 million that was entered against Chad Gettel, her associate in the alleged scheme, in September 2017. The judgment is suspended based on her inability to pay. The full judgment will become due immediately if she is found to have misrepresented her financial condition.
The FTC thanks the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Utah and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Salt Lake City Field Office for their important partnership in this case. White pled guilty to related mail fraud and money-laundering charges brought by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and is currently awaiting sentencing.
The Commission vote authorizing the staff to file the complaint and proposed stipulated final order was 2-0. The U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona entered the order on December 21, 2017.
NOTE: The Commission files 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. Stipulated final orders have the force of law when approved and signed by the District Court judge.
The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition, and protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357)