On April 18, two companies and their owner, who were charged with selling bogus bartender and mystery shopper certification programs, were banned for life from telemarketing. The owner also will pay $115,000 and turn over his Porsche convertible to settle the Commission's charges. The owner, Stevan P. Todorovic, is a repeat-offender who also is under a court order from October 2001; following FTC charges that he deceptively sold auction information guides.
The defendants placed “help wanted” ads in local newspapers seeking bartender trainees and mystery shoppers. When job-seekers responded to the advertisements, the defendants' telemarketers represented that positions were available, but only for those consumers who had been “certified” by defendants as bartenders or mystery shoppers. The defendants led consumers to believe that upon being “certified,” they would receive concrete information on available job openings. Yet after charging consumers between $58.90 and $98.90 for their at-home certification programs, the defendants provided consumers with only general lists of potential employers that are available elsewhere at no cost, which often had never heard of the defendants and attached no significance whatsoever to their “certifications.”
In the October case, the FTC accused Todorovic of running a similar scheme. In that case, the FTC maintained that he had deceptively telemarketed auction guides, promising consumers unique information on what would be available at specific auctions, but delivering only general information on local auction houses, comparable to what consumers could find in the Yellow Pages. The order in the earlier case banned him from selling auction guides and also prohibited the deceptive practices alleged in the FTC's complaint. In addition to Todorovic, the order announced also applies to American Bartending Institute, Inc. and Intuitive Logic, Inc., the corporations through which Todorovic operated his latest schemes.
On November 18, 2005, the federal court hearing the case granted the FTC's request for a preliminary injunction, banning the defendants from doing any telemarketing while the case was pending. The order announced makes that telemarketing ban permanent. The remaining defendant in the case, Michael G. Harvey, previously settled the FTC's charges. The final order against Harvey also includes a lifetime telemarketing ban.