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FTC Action Halts Deceptive Business Coaching Scheme

Defendants charged up to $13,995 for coaching, and thousands more for other services

The Federal Trade Commission has charged two Utah individuals and their telemarketing operation with deceptively claiming their business coaching services can help consumers start home-based businesses that earn thousands of dollars a month.

According to the FTC, the defendants target people who buy bogus work-at-home programs online for less than $100. Those who sell these programs often encourage buyers to contact an “expert consultant” or “specialist” to see if they qualify for an “advanced” coaching program. Consumers who call to speak with a specialist are routed to the defendants’ telemarketers.

As alleged in the FTC’s complaint, the defendants charge up to $13,995 – usually on consumers’ credit cards – for a purported business coaching program that provides information that is largely available for free on the Internet, and thousands of dollars more for other purported business development services. Most people who buy the defendants’ services do not develop a functioning business, earn little or no money, and end up heavily in debt, according to the complaint.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Utah entered stipulated temporary restraining orders that freeze the defendants’ assets and prohibit them from selling business coaching services. The FTC seeks to permanently end the defendants’ alleged illegal practices and obtain money for injured consumers.

The defendants are Jared Rodabaugh, Justin Larsen, Vision Solution Marketing LLC, VSM Group LLC, Ryze Services LLC, and Specialized Consulting Solutions LLC. They are charged with violating the FTC Act and the Telemarketing Sales Rule.

The Commission vote approving the complaint was 2-0. The temporary restraining orders against Larsen, VSM Group and Specialized Consulting Solutions, and Rodabaugh, Vision Solution Marketing and Ryze Services, were entered by the court on May 4 and May 14, 2018, respectively.

The FTC acknowledges the assistance of the State of Utah Department of Commerce, Division of Consumer Protection during the investigation of this case.

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. The case will be decided by the court.