In the Scam of the day for August 12, 2018 I reported to you that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Minnesota Attorney General had filed a lawsuit and obtained a temporary restraining order against Sellers Playbook and its principals in regard to a business opportunity scam in which they sold their “secret” system for earning thousands of dollars each month by selling goods on Amazon. The program in no way was affiliated with or approved by Amazon and although Seller’s Playbook claimed that by following the system its customers could earn $20,000 a month and potential net profits of millions of dollars, the promises were phony and there was no secret system. According to the lawsuit filed by the FTC and  the State of Minnesota, the defendants cheated their customers out of more than 15 million dollars between April of 2017 and May of 2018 with most of their victims paying them more than $32,000. Now the case has been settled with Sellers Playbook Inc. and its principals, Jessie Conners Tieva, Matthew R. Tieva and their other company Exposure Marketing Company being banned from selling or assisting others to sell any business opportunity or business coaching program.  A judgment of 20.8 million dollars was also ordered by the Federal District Court of Minnesota, however the judgment will be suspended once the defendants surrender all corporate assets as well as substantial assets owned by Matthew and Jessie Tieva.

TIPS

The sale of business opportunities is regulated by the FTC’s Business Opportunity Rule which requires the sellers of business opportunities to provide a one-page disclosure document outlining important facts about the offering including informing you about any legal actions in which the sellers have been involved. In this particular case some of the defendants had previously been sued by the FTC for operating a similar scam. The disclosure also has to provide you with details as to any refund policy and provide a list of references. Additionally, as is always the case with these types of scams, if they make claims about how much money you can earn through their scheme, they must provide you with an Earnings Claim Statement that indicates in detail the specifics of those claims and the opportunity to see written proof of the claims.

Before considering any kind of business opportunity, you should have a lawyer review these required disclosures and if the person offering you the business opportunity does not provide these documents, you should consider that a red flag that this is a scam. You also should investigate the people behind the offering as well as the particular type of business opportunity.

I will continue to follow this case and if a refund program is instituted by the FTC, I will let you know about it and how to make a claim if you were victimized by this scam.

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