WASHINGTON, D.C. — The owners of a scam that targeted Latina consumers with promises of wealth and financial security are permanently prohibited from selling money-making opportunities under the terms of a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission.
In a complaint filed as part of the FTC’s Operation Income Illusion sweep, the agency alleged that Moda Latina BZ Inc., Esther Virginia Fernandez Aguirre, and Marco Cesar Zarate Quíroz specifically targeted Latina consumers in Spanish-language ads on TV with false promises of earnings at home.
“This scheme targeted Spanish-language TV viewers with lies about making money from home,” said Daniel Kaufman, acting director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Anyone considering a work-from-home offer should take time and do research before spending their money.”
The defendants allegedly lured consumers into buying a work-at-home business with claims that they could earn “large profits” re-selling luxury products such as brand-name perfumes. Misrepresentations alleged in the complaint include “Want to have your own business and earn up to a thousand dollars per week?” and “Crisis? What crisis? I forgot about that ever since I started selling with Perfume Box. It completely changed my life and my finances.”
The complaint also alleged that the defendants’ telemarketers routinely threatened consumers in violation of the Telemarketing Sales Rule.
Under the terms of the settlement, the defendants will be permanently prohibited from selling any service or product that is presented as a way for consumers to make money. They will also be prohibited from making any deceptive claims about the risk or money-making potential of any good or service. The settlement also prohibits the defendants from making such claims in the course of telemarketing and from any other violations of the Telemarketing Sales Rule.
The settlement includes a monetary judgment of $7,000,489, which is partially suspended due to the defendants’ inability to pay. Zarate and Fernandez will each be required to pay $20,000; the corporate defendant is currently in bankruptcy proceedings.
Should the defendants be found to have misrepresented their financial condition, the full amount of the judgment would become immediately payable.
The Commission vote approving the stipulated final order was 4-0. The FTC filed the proposed order in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
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