Both judgments found that the defendants, Allan M. Farris and Estil A. Wallace, violated the Consumer Fraud Act by misrepresenting the effectiveness of the marketing services and falsely claiming that consumers would realize increased earnings through those services. The online advertising packages sold by the defendants ranged in price from $500-$40,000.
"Consumer scams of this type are proliferating, and it is important that every Arizona consumer be wary of telemarketing schemes such as these," Horne said. "These predatory scams make victims out of innocent consumers, and my office is going to remain extremely vigilant and put illegal operators out of business. But the first line of defense is for consumers to be very cautious about whom they allow to handle their money."
Full Speed Funding telemarketers called consumers, offering an opportunity to earn money working from home, arranging for the funding of small business loans and/or credit card processing services. Consumers were told that they would earn a commission each time one of their leads made a purchase. Defendants called consumers who purchased a website a second time and persuaded them to purchase marketing services for their business. Although consumers were told they would receive substantial commissions, they always failed to earn any profit or income as promised.
The state obtained a default judgment against the two businesses and Allan Farris. The judgments permanently enjoined both Wallace and Farris from:
- Violating the Consumer Fraud Act and Telephone Solicitation Statute in the future;
- Having any involvement in a business entity that is engaged in the advertisement and/or sale of any business opportunity in the state of Arizona;
- Making any and all outbound telemarketing calls to any consumer residing in the state of Arizona; and
- Providing their customers' names, addresses, telephone numbers, and e-mail addresses, fax numbers and/or credit card or bank account numbers to any other business.
Defendants also were ordered to provide restitution to their victims and were assessed a civil penalty.
The number of these types of business opportunity scams has increased during the past several years. To protect consumers from this type of fraud, Attorney General Horne initiated legislation to regulate business opportunities. The bill was sponsored by Representative Kate Brophy-McGee. The new law requires that these types of business give potential buyers sufficient information to make an informed decision and the chance to review the information before actually purchasing.
Consumers who believe they were defrauded by a business opportunity seller or are contacted by a company that has not complied with the new law should file a complaint with the Attorney General's Office. To file a consumer complaint, please contact the Arizona Attorney General's Office Consumer Information & Complaints Unit at (602) 542-5763 / (520)628-6504 / http://www.azag.gov/consumer/complaintform.html.
Further information about the bill, HB 2825, and the complete text may be found at www.azleg.gov.
This case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Nancy V. Anger.