Judge Halts Business-Opportunity Marketers

A federal district court judge in Nashville, TN, has issued a restraining order against seven corporations and five individuals accused of fraudulently marketing business opportunities through prerecorded messages, the Federal Trade Commission said yesterday.

The group is charged with defrauding consumers who lost tens of thousands of dollars in the scheme. The FTC also accused the group of repeatedly violating the national no-call list.

In August 2001, the group began offering business ventures involving the sale of telephone calling cards. Prices ranged from $12,995 to $71,120, according to the FTC. The group marketed its offerings through sales seminars and used pre-recorded messages to invite consumers to the seminars.

In September 2003, the group began marketing public-access Internet terminals for prices ranging from $15,995 to $249,950, according to the FTC. It promised that the terminals would generate revenue from advertising and usage fees, the FTC said.

At the end of 2003, the group moved its base from Florida to Tennessee. In January 2004 the group began marketing Internet terminals for $15,435 to $127,495.

The group failed to provide accurate disclosures and earnings-claim documents required under the federal Franchise Rule and misrepresented customers' rights to cancel and receive refunds, according to the FTC. The group also left prerecorded messages with consumers whose telephone numbers were listed on the no-call list after the Oct. 17, 2003, effective date of the list.

Companies charged by the FTC include: OneSetPrice Inc., RPM Marketing Group Inc., and National Event Coordinators Inc., all of Orlando, FL; First Choice Terminal Inc., Baton Rouge, LA; First Choice Terminal Inc., Scottsdale, AZ; Internet Marketing Group Inc., Lebanon, TN; and B & C Ventures Inc., Reno, NV. The individuals named in the case were David G. Cutler, Cindy Gannon, Paul D. Bonnallie, Tisa Christiana Spraul and Michael J. Hatch.

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