On December 14, 2017, the FTC turned in a proposed stipulation order that bans Bob Robinson, LLC; Mega Export 2005 Inc.; Mega Export USA Inc.; Netcore Solutions, LLC; Bobby J. Robinson (individually and as manager of Bob Robinson, LLC and Netcore Solutions, LLC); and Michael Sirois (individually and as manager of Mega Export 2005 and Mega Export USA) from offering “work-at-home” vacancies and business coaching. The defendants were charged with violating Business Opportunity Rule (16 C.F.R. Part 437). That statute deals specifically with how work from home opportunities are marketed and advertised to the public. However, it’s important to note that the defendants are not admitted or denying any of the allegations made in the FTC lawsuit.
Defendants Advertised Consumers Would Make Big Bucks with Their System
The FTC alleged that the defendants convinced consumers to purchase an “online system” that would allow them to make thousands of dollars each month. The named defendants marketed their services under the names Work At Home EDU, Work At Home Program, Work At Home Ecademy, Work At Home University, Work At Home Revenue, and Work At Home Institute.
In addition to the work-at-home “options” that the defendants alleged would make consumers big bucks, they also offered business coaching services. Business coaching, according to the complaint, cost consumers thousands of dollars.
Outrageous Income Claims
While it is certainly possible to work from home and make a decent living, the Business Opportunity Rule is very specific in how work from home “opportunities” can be marketed. That includes the ban on making outrageous income claims. According to the complaint, the defendants made the following representations (paragraph 19):
- No Scam: Texas Mom Makes Extra $8000/Month In Her Spare Time on The Computer Without Selling Anything
- I’m talking about earning hundreds of dollars per hour from home, without any special skills or experience.
The FTC went on to allege that most of the people who signed up with the defendants made absolutely no money. In fact, the FTC alleges that an investigator used an undercover identity to sign up for one of the websites and paid for “instant access.” They waded through “upgrades” and “bonuses” and received an email that invited them to complete step one which was calling to speak with one of their “start-up specialists.” In this call, consumers are subjected to a sales pitch and asked for more money for business coaching services.
The Material to Make “Thousands” Per Month? Affiliate Marketing Videos
The investigator logged into the “members only area” and the material that the defendants advertised as something that could make consumers thousands of dollars per month were videos that discussed affiliate marketing (paragraph 63).
Bob Robinson, LLC and Other Named Defendants Banned from Offering Work-at-Home Options
The proposed stipulated order bans Bob Robinson, LLC and the other named defendants from offering work-at-home options or business coaching. They also cannot market or distribute any sort of business opportunity or coaching program. The defendants may not make ridiculous income claims or misrepresent services. Finally, the defendants will pay $35 million in monetary relief to the FTC.