An executive with a sales company that scammed job applicants out of money through online want ads, has been forced by the Federal Trade Commission to relinquish his half-million-dollar Huntington Beach condominium.
Technically, the FTC imposed a $13 million judgment against Santa Barbara-based telemarketers National Sales Group and I Life Marketing LLC, which also did business as Executive Sales Network and Certified Sales Jobs, and their official Anthony J. Newton, who owns the 3-bedroom, 2.5-bath condo at 7765 Seabreeze Drive.
However, according to a court filing dated Jan. 25, the judgment will be set aside once Newton pays $279,000, surrenders his interest in the Surf City condo and terminates the lease on a 2009 Mercedes-Benz. The $13 million judgment can also be reinstated should it later be determined Newton or his companies fabricated their financial condition, according to court documents.
In the meantime, Newton and his companies: are banned from selling employment products or services in the future; must properly dispose of their former customers' personal information; and are barred from selling or using that information or from attempting to collect payments from past customers.
The companies' telemarketers contacted people who posted their resumes on Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com--which is jointly owned by the Gannet, McClatchy and Los Angeles Times-owning Tribune media companies--saying jobs were waiting for them with Fortune 1000 companies. The prospects only had to pay fees ranging from $29 to $38 to cover background checks and other headhunter services.
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The only things is, there were no jobs waiting for the applicants. And many discovered they had been overcharged $97 or hit with recurring monthly fees of $13.71 or more without their consent. According to court documents, the scam defrauded customers out of at least $8 million. The scheme also generated more than 17,000 complaints to job boards, online forums and law enforcement agencies. Google "National Sales Group" and near the top of the link list will be one to a site with this in all caps: "NATIONAL SALES GROUP IS A SCAM!"
The scam caught the attention of "Operation Empty Promises," a multi-agency task force headed by the FTC that has resulted in more than 90 enforcement actions. CareerBuilder.com, the Santa Barbara Police Department, the California Attorney General's office and the Better Business Bureau of the Tri-Counties helped with the investigation.
The Federal Trade Commission ultimately voted 5-0 to authorize the filing of a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. The court temporarily halted the company's deceptive practices, froze the defendants' assets and put the company into receivership on Feb. 22, 2011. That's the same day agents in black flack jackets raided the National Sales Group offices on East Haley Street in Santa Barbara.
Read the recent ruling HERE.