LAS VEGAS (Legal Newsline) — The Federal Trade Commission
(FTC) has announced that the ringleader and two other defendants of the alleged
IWorks online billing scheme have agreed to settle allegations of taking more than
$280 million from consumers.
In December 2010, the FTC sued IWorks CEO Jeremy Johnson,
along with nine other individuals and 61 corporate defendants. The FTC alleged that IWorks deceived consumers by offering “free” trial memberships for bogus
government-grant and moneymaking products, then charging them recurring month
fees they never agreed to pay.
The $280.9 million penalty against Johnson represents consumers' unreimbursed
losses to the alleged scheme, and most of it will be suspended once the FTC
receives all of Johnson’s frozen assets. This includes millions of dollars in
bank accounts, stock, real estate and jewelry.
General manager Ryan Riddle also received a $280.9 million
judgment. Andy Johnson, who allegedly managed one of IWork’s deceptive
programs, was fined $6 million. Both judgments will be suspended due to the
defendants’ inability to pay.
Jeremy Johnson and Ryan Riddle are banned from selling grant
products, investment opportunities, continuity programs and forced upsells. Andy Johnson is also banned from selling products as forced up-sells. Jeremy Johnson's wife, Sharla Johnson, and his parents, Kerry and Barbara Johnson, have agreed to forfeit various properties and companies. Four other individual defendants previously reached settlements with the FTC. Litigation continues against the remaining three defendants.
The FTC voted 3-0 to approve each stipulated final order.