Las Vegas • Operators of a Utah-based work-from-home scheme will pay more than $1.4 million to settle an unfair and deceptive practices complaint that they used spam emails, fake celebrity endorsements and bogus news stories to sell their products under more than a dozen brand names, the Federal Trade Commission said Monday.
Effen Ads LLC owners Jason Brailow and Brandon Harshbarger, along with an affiliate marketing network called W4 LLC, racked up more than 50,000 orders from 2015 to 2017 at a typical cost of $97, according to an FTC complaint filed in November.
The bulk unsolicited emails included false "from" lines naming news organizations like CNN or Fox News and "subject" lines that falsely suggested endorsements by celebrities such as investor Warren Buffett and personal finance expert Suze Orman.
The settlements reached Dec. 20 imposed an $11.3 million judgment against Brailow, Harshbarger and Nevada-based Effen Ads and banned them from conducting a similar business. The commission said it will accept $25,000 from Harshbarger and almost $122,000 from Brailow because they're unable to pay the full amount.
Effen Ads also did business as iCloudWorx, with business addresses in Midvale, Utah, and at a UPS store in Draper, Utah, the FTC said.
The complaint was filed in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City. It also alleged that Effen Ads, Brailow and Harshbarger, as well W4 chief executive Jason Walker, violated a 2003 federal anti-spam act.
Attorneys for Brailow, Harshbarger and Walker were not listed in the court public record.
Walker will pay $1.3 million as part of the settlement and is banned from marketing or selling any work-from-home program, the commission said.
The FTC said the schemes were marketed under brand names such as Secure Home Profits, Paydays At Home, Home Cashflow Club, Home Cash Code, Home Payday Center, Snap Web Profits, Complete Profit Code, Global Cashflow Center, Global Payday System, Your Income Gateway, Home Payday Club, Web Payday Center and Home Payday Vault.