WASHINGTON ― The Federal Trade Commission is sending full refunds totaling more than $284,000 to people who lost money to a scheme that used misleading spam emails to lure consumers into buying work-from-home services.
The FTC alleged that Effen Ads, LLC and its owners worked with an affiliate marketing network called W4 LLC to promote a work-from-home scheme by sending bulk unsolicited email, or spam, to consumers. The emails included “from” lines that falsely claimed they were coming from news organizations like CNN or Fox News, and “subject” lines that falsely suggested the opportunity was endorsed by celebrities such as investor Warren Buffett and personal finance expert Suze Orman.
The emails linked to websites displaying fake news stories and false celebrity endorsements, according to the complaint. Consumers who clicked on the links were routed to websites pitching the Effen Ads’ work-from-home schemes. The schemes operated under numerous 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.
As part of their settlement with the FTC, the owners of Effen Ads and W4 LLC agreed to pay more than $1.4 million. Today’s distribution provides refunds to those who were deceived as part of Effen Ads’ work-from-home scheme. The remaining funds will be used to provide refunds to people whose personal information was sold by Effen Ads to Vision Solution Marketing, a telemarketing firm that peddled allegedly bogus business opportunities and agreed to a separate settlement with the FTC.
The FTC is sending $97 each to 2,931 people who lost money to the Effen Ads scheme. Most recipients will get their refunds via PayPal, but those who receive checks should deposit or cash their checks within 90 days, as indicated on the check. The FTC never requires people to pay money or provide account information to cash a refund check. If recipients have questions about the refunds, they should contact the FTC’s refund administrator, Rust Consulting, Inc., 1-866-317-7915.
Consumers can find a state-by-state breakdown of FTC refunds on the FTC’s refund data dashboards. The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition, and protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357).