The Federal Trade Commission has charged the operators of an Orlando company, Montano Enterprises, with false advertising about sales of generic software.
The commission’s federal lawsuit says Ronnie Montano’s companies told customers they could earn big money working from home by using products marketed as “secret codes,” but those products were actually generic software products. Customers who bought the products often paid much more than they are sold for in other outlets.
The commission is suing Montano, Hyong Su “Jimmy” Kim, Martin Schranz and their related companies, saying they bilked consumers out of millions of dollars with products like the Mobile Money Code. The FTC accuses Montano of selling generic software applications labeled as the Mobile Money Code.
The complaint alleges that the defendants primarily contacted consumers with spam emails sent by affiliate marketers. For example, some emails cited in the complaint claimed that the products were a “secret method folks are using to make thousands of dollars per day (seriously!)” or that users can start “generating 60k a month on 100% autopilot.”
The defendants allegedly sold their products through a variety of websites such as mobilemoneycode.com, automobilecode.com and secretmoneysystem.com. None of those sites appeared to be active anymore. Attempts to locate a local office for Montano were not successful.
In addition to the deceptive earnings claims, the defendants used misleading subject headings in the spam email they sent to consumers and failed to include a clear means to opt out of future messages, the commission alleges.
The FTC accuses Montano of hiring actors to praise the products in false testimonials.
Consumers who tried to exit the websites without purchasing a product were allegedly blocked with a series of pop-up messages, the FTC said. Even those consumers who agreed to make an initial purchase were asked to make additional purchases through upsells and add-ons, according to the complaint.
The FTC also alleges that the defendants did not honor their “60-day hassle-free money back guarantee” and made it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to obtain a full or partial refund.
The FTC charges say the business tactics violate the FTC Act’s prohibition against deceptive practices and the CAN-SPAM Act, which requires commercial email to have an accurate subject line, to identify itself as an ad, to include a valid physical address, and offer recipients a way to opt out of future messages.
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