FTC Shuts Down Deceptive Business Opportunity Scam Preying on Spanish-Speaking Consumers

Federal Trade Commission

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A Federal Trade Commission (FTC) lawsuit has permanently halted a business opportunity scam known as Ganadores Online and Ganadores Inversiones Bienes Raíces. The fraudulent operation was particularly egregious, as it specifically targeted Spanish-speaking consumers with deceptive money-making pitches for online businesses and real estate investments.

The defendants in the case include the companies behind Ganadores, their owners and managers Richard and Sara Alvarez, and an employee, Bryce Chamberlain, who played a key role in marketing the scheme. Under proposed federal court orders, these individuals will be permanently banned from selling ecommerce or real estate coaching services. They will also be required to surrender considerable assets to the FTC. These assets, totaling approximately $6 million, will be used to provide refunds to consumers harmed by the scam.

The FTC first filed suit against Ganadores in June 2023. The complaint alleged that the scheme lured Spanish-speaking consumers with unfounded earnings claims and other deceptive promises. Consumers were told that Ganadores’ “infallible system” could grant them financial independence, replace their day jobs, and secure their families’ financial futures. However, after paying substantial amounts—sometimes tens of thousands of dollars—for training and coaching, consumers found that Ganadores failed to deliver on its promises.

Adding insult to injury, when consumers sought refunds upon realizing Ganadores’ false promises, they were often denied. The company stipulated that consumers had only three days to request a refund. The FTC also noted that while the company’s marketing and sales were conducted largely in Spanish, targeting consumers with limited or no English fluency, the company’s contracts and key disclosures were often provided exclusively in English.

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The settlements include two proposed court orders, one against the companies and Richard Alvarezes and another against Bryce Chamberlain. These orders include a ban on ecommerce and real estate coaching, a requirement to substantiate any earnings claims, and a prohibition on repeating the unlawful practices that led to the lawsuit.

This case is particularly important to Spanish-speaking consumers, who are often targeted by deceptive practices due to language barriers and lack of access to resources. By taking action against Ganadores, the FTC has sent a clear message that such predatory practices will not be tolerated. It also highlights the need for consumers to exercise caution and skepticism when presented with business opportunities promising quick wealth or financial independence.

The case against another defendant, Robert Shemin, is ongoing.

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