Two well-known real estate celebrities, along with a marketing group, have agreed to pay nearly $17 million after making false claims to sell investment training programs in Utah.
The consumer protection settlement is the largest in state history, according to the Federal Trade Commission and Utah Department of Commerce.
Using infomercials and social media, Response Marketing Group would attract consumers to free events across the country where so-called real estate experts like Scott Yancey and Dean R. Graziosi would promise to share investing techniques.
Yancey is best known for hosting the A&E show "Flipping Vegas." Graziosi is a best-selling author.
Instead, the group would entice consumers to purchase "three-day workshops for around $1,000 by falsely representing that it would provide consumers with access to special tools that would enable them to become successful real estate investors. Response Marketing deceptively pitched additional training programs that cost tens of thousands of dollars at the three-day workshops," according to the Utah's Division of Consumer Protection.
The company also used telemarketing to upsell consumers on a program called "Inner Circle" for $30,000. Officials said "most consumers who purchased Response Marketing’s products and services did not become successful real estate investors and did not recoup the money they spent on the training programs."
Response Marketing Group agreed to pay $15 million and are banned from further selling money-making opportunities, while Yancey and Graziosi agreed to pay a combined $1.7 million.
In past years, Response Marketing has sold training programs under names such as Affluence Edu, Cash Flow Edu, Flip for Life, OnWealth, Renovate to Rent and Visionary Events.
"This is the largest consumer protection division settlement in Utah’s history and holds Response Marketing and its affiliates accountable for the serious financial harm to consumers across the country," said Utah Department of Commerce Executive Director Margaret Busse.
This story was originally published by Jeff Tavss for Scripps News Salt Lake City.
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