FTC files lawsuit against Utah companies, alleging online business scam

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  • W Hall Canton, MI
    April 15, 2015 1:18 p.m.

    My 23 year old daughter was taken for over $6,400 three years ago. There are hundreds of complaints going back to 2011. They do the shell game with corporate names to make it more difficult to track and prosecute.

    This is not a witch hunt, but is a series of carefully orchestrated fraudulent and unscrupulous business practices mixed with various LLC name changes to obscure the situation. They prey on the desperate people and take advantage with lies and deception. She was a struggling college student and they lied to get her coerced into signing up. Numerous attempts to negotiate a settlement were ignored.

    The people who work here that are not complicit, should seek honest employment elsewhere. Those that are should be made to reimburse all and then spend time in prison.

  • 1stmeridian Eagle Mountain, UT
    March 20, 2014 9:24 p.m.

    There was a hearing today and a very wise judge saw the folly by our federal government and corrected it by telling them to release the assets to the owners of the coaching company.

    Many of you have cast your stones of judgment with no knowledge of the facts or the case. Here are some facts for you:
    The coaching floor was raided by armed federal marshals with no hearing or due process.
    Coaches were sent away and thousands of clients were left hanging with no support.
    Business and personal assets were frozen without a trial.

    Today the Judge quickly overruled the FTC but the damage is already done. Clients have been without communication for over a month. The company has no income now to complete coaching and even though the fedss messed up and had no case, more damage was done by their actions and more complaints have occurred than in 5 years of business from the defendants

  • terra nova Park City, UT
    March 3, 2014 7:11 a.m.

    Dante is correct. It is the "means employed" to get business that constitutes the real problem. The accused made claims that included fake testimonials. They used stock photos (meaning photos provided for use in trade using models) and showed them to prospective coaching clients as living proof that "these people did it" in order to persuade them to part with their money. In other words, their trade practices were deceptive.

    They fell in with the "father of lies" and began using his techniques. That is why they are being prosecuted.

  • Dante Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 28, 2014 7:24 a.m.

    The scam isn't just promising to coach and then not coaching. The problem is, from the article: "bogus testimonials" purporting to be from real people who have bought the kits and used the kits to make $2,000 to $5,000 per month, when those are fictional testimonials and stock photos downloaded from the Internet. I'd call that a scam and a fraud. It's like using fake photos of people who have lost 80 pounds in four months, and telling people that these fakes are genuine past customers who took some miracle pills that are in reality, nothing but a few vitamins and corn starch that never helped anyone to lose weight.

  • John Locke Ivins, , UT
    Feb. 27, 2014 6:38 p.m.

    For any who are saddened by any religious affiliation in these crimes, I find that religion plays no part in greed, except to condemn it in its highest creed. Greed is a disease that is caught by even the initially most innocent. Money will buy almost anything...the soul of most any human being can be bought, except those who have made the decision in advance that they will live an honest life...sometimes without much money, but worth it in the end.

  • bluecapital midway, UT
    Feb. 27, 2014 2:21 p.m.

    Its pretty pathetic that people here are so quick to judge. Please be reminded this is an ALLEGED scam... not a proven one. Our federal govt is searching for ways to increase revenue... apparently THEFT by our govt is legal, and this is not the first time they have sought out a profitable company and shut them down... its outright unfair and ridiculous.

    I actually know that this SCAM of our FTC has put more than 100 Utah'n employees out of work and has frozen other programs completely unrelated to this business in question. This isnt a question about the faith or ethics of the owners of this business... its a problem with our govt over reaching into things that dont make sense to a govt employee... ie... being a "for profit" organization.

    We would be better served if our govt agencies look into how groups like this are able to actually create opportunities for people to work, rather than question how they made money and shut it down. Thousands of people a year are able to make money through the programs these guys offered... and now they are being scrutinized for people too lazy to implement what they learned.

  • ironmania San Diego, CA
    Feb. 27, 2014 2:12 p.m.

    I know Babata Sonnenberg personally and know that she would never do anything deceptive. This is a witch hunt, plain and simple.

  • Dee Mink American Fork, UT
    Feb. 27, 2014 2:06 p.m.

    First, am I the only one to noticed the defendants aren't interviewed or quoted in this article? Are they to be heard or found guilty because the Deseret News publishes their name? Second, what is the US Attorney really seeking? Justice? People get coached and failed? I have watched a lot of Utah Jazz; maybe we should go after their coach for fraudulently claiming he knows how to coach. What does the Federal government want? They want to be able "own" the internet and all its revenues through taxation. Why go after small Utah companies? They can be "broken" financially through this litigation and forced to "plea guilty" and now the Federal Government uses the framed up and blackmailed "case law" to go after bigger and bigger fish until they own the internet. This is about power and money. Watch the "career" of this US attorney. After he strikes out for his Master; he will be rewarded by a nice fat job in D.C.; the real source of corruption and greed. Finally, it isn't just these little fish that are at risk. It is each and everyone of us who thinks we have any freedom left.

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    Feb. 27, 2014 11:40 a.m.

    I am very, very disheartened of the BYU/LDS connection with these defendants. Please explain to me why people who should know better, who should live by a higher standard, are engaged in these practices. Is it as someone close to me stated that money is a measure of righteousness in our culture? Is it something else?

  • dalefarr South Jordan, Utah
    Feb. 27, 2014 11:24 a.m.

    It's regrettable that Utah (the so called best managed State) is a failed State when it comes to regulating and policing these scams. We shouldn't have to rely on the Federal Government to clean up the misconduct.

  • NevadaCougar Panaca, NV
    Feb. 27, 2014 11:20 a.m.

    Maybe its just me, but doesn't the word "scam" imply fraud? How is it fraudulent if you promise to coach and then coach? How did they not deliver? If I hire a baseball coach for my kid, will the FTC arrest him and send him to prison if my kid doesn't make it to the MLB? This is just an abuse of power. These aren't MLM companies, which are worse in my opinion. Or all out con artists. They simply promise to coach you and they do. People then get mad because they aren't the next Facebook billionaire. Be careful what you wish for, when the government starts arresting people for making too much of a profit, it is easy to transition into a complete police state.

  • Uncle Rico Sandy, UT
    Feb. 27, 2014 10:24 a.m.


    I know people like to blame everything on Utah County (especially older generation) but a lot of this is going on in south salt lake (Draper) as well. A lot of these "Coaches" are just retreads from 20 years ago.

  • leonard Oakley, ID
    Feb. 27, 2014 9:30 a.m.

    About time someone did something about these con artists. They got me about 6 or 7 years ago. I was able to get my money back, but was unable to get any agency to take action against them. I contacted the Utah attorney general's office and the FBI. They put enough pressure on this company that I was able to get my money back, but in the meantime, these guys did everything they could to destroy my reputation. Nice to hear that an agency is actually doing something.

  • DN Subscriber Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Feb. 27, 2014 8:59 a.m.

    Good to see the feds going after worthless Ponzi schemes, bait and switch, false promises etc.

    Oh, this was NOT about Social Security and Obamacare?

    When the government does this stuff it is "progress" but if some private business crook tries stuff like that, they get prosecuted.

    There is a lot of truth in the bumper sticker "Don't Steal, The Government Hates Competition."

  • Braxton ogden, ut
    Feb. 27, 2014 8:47 a.m.

    And THANK YOU again Utah County for bringing this type of attention to our State and, by default, the prominent religion to the forefront .unbelievable.

  • flatlander Omaha, NE
    Feb. 27, 2014 8:20 a.m.

    Surprise surprise and Utah companies. Not surprised at all.

  • Michael Matthews Omaha, NE
    Feb. 27, 2014 6:22 a.m.

    The amount of litigation going after fraudulent business practices by the Feds is impressive. Johnson & Johnson and a couple of banks were nailed earlier this year. It's good that they are finally going after these types of leeches. Most of us hear these claims and just roll our eyes, but a few people get suckered in.