Recently, the FTC has stated that there have been numerous money-making schemes linked to Amazon and other legitimate companies, which lured victims with a phony grants program, that bilked consumers out of thousands of dollars by promising big profits. The FTC said three individuals and their five companies took money from seniors, veterans and debt-laden consumers with their schemes and grant promises.
In particular, the Amazon scheme offered big profits to its victims, who were asked to put up thousands of dollars for a website that would supposedly earn commissions by selling merchandise on the Amazon platform. Consumers who fell for it were also hit up for advertising and search engine optimization services that are reportedly worthless.
A federal court has temporarily halted the operation and the agency seeks to end these illegal practices and obtain the stolen money to return to these consumers.
Other than the Amazon scheme, telemarketers call people claiming to represent the government and claiming that they can get government and corporate grants to help pay for home repairs, medical costs, and paying down personal debts. They ask for thousands of dollars up-front and falsely promise that consumers will receive grants worth tens of thousands of dollars within 90 days.
According to the FTC, the defendants tried extracting even larger payments from many of these same consumers using a tactic known as “reloading” – offering to sell them additional phony grants and typically promising that they can qualify for larger grants by forming a limited liability company.
Consumers, of course, have received no money from these schemes, and those who called to complain or ask for refunds are ignored.
The defendants in the case are Blue Saguaro Marketing LLC, also recognized as Blue Saguaro Grant Program, Gera Grant, Government Grant Service, Grant Center, and Grant Resources; MarketingWays.com LLC, also d/b/a Amazon.com Associates Program; Max Results Marketing LLC, also d/b/a Amazon.com Associates Program, Amazon Affiliate Program, Amazon Associates Central, Gera Grant and, and Grant Strategy Solutions; Oro Canyon Marketing II LLC; Paramount Business Services LLC, also d/b/a Paramount Business Resources; Stephanie A. Bateluna; Stacey Vela; and Carl E. Morris, Jr. They are charged with violating the FTC Act and the Telemarketing Sales Rule.
The U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona entered a temporary restraining order against the defendants on October 11, 2016, and extended the order on October 25, 2016.