Feds suing alleged Internet scammer




Posted on May 17, 2011 at 6:01 PM

Updated Tuesday, May 17 at 6:01 PM

SEATTLE -- Claudia Forster is grinning pretty wide today because the company that hit her credit card over teeth whitener is now taking some heavy blows from the Federal Trade Commission.

"I'm so excited, because you never know that somebody really cares," Claudia said. "To have the FTC pick it up is like triumph for the little person."

Little people, as a group, spend big time cash. And they sent a lot of money to the people running this alleged scam.

"We have records that indicate that more than $400 million came in through these enterprises," said Bob Schroeder with the Federal Trade Commission. He said the agency is suing the man behind the enterprise, Jesse Willms of Alberta, Canada.

Court documents show Willms had ten companies which peddled everything from the teeth whitener it sold to Claudia to acai berry weight loss pills.

"People are offered something looks like a good deal, free trial offer, just pay shipping and handling, and what they get stuck with is $80 in monthly payments," Schroeder said.

That's exactly what happened to Claudia. She paid $1.95 for teeth whitener. After she saw an $80 charge on her credit card bill, it became a skin whitener.

"I'm not paying for that. I didn't order that. I don't want that," said Claudia.

As for the products themselves, check out these two weight loss supplements. There's "Wu-Yee Burn, Secret of the Orient" and the "Acai Burn, Secret of the Amazon."

"Interestingly, the secrets are exactly the same. Same ingredients. Same products. Just a different name on the label," Schroeder said.

Bottom line: If something is offered cheap or free on the Internet, it's probably not.

"Any free offer likely has a hitch, and on the Internet there are some many places to hide crazy terms and conditions you really have to look closely to find the hitch," Schroeder said.

Willms posted a message on his website, saying,"We believe our business practices are compliant with the law and are working to resolve this disagreement with the appropriate government agencies."

If you still have a problem with one of these companies, file a complaint with the FTC.