Defendants in Spanish-language scheme banned from telemarketing, selling weight-loss products

government actionIn a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, defendants in a Spanish-language marketing scheme are banned from telemarketing and selling weight-loss products. The defendants allegedly charged Spanish-speaking consumers for unordered and defective products and made it costly or nearly impossible to get refunds.

According to a the FTC, The Hispanic Global Way defendants sold products via Spanish-language television ads and Peruvian call centers and then shipped incomplete orders, wrong or defective products, products of the wrong size or color, and products that did not perform as advertised, including a bogus weight-loss belt.

Consumers who complained were reportedly ignored or insulted, told they couldn’t exchange or return the products, or told they had to pay a fee ranging from $20 to $299 to do so. When the defendants did promise refunds or exchanges, they never materialized. A federal judge halted the operation and froze the defendants’ assets, pending litigation.

Under the settlement order, the defendants must provide refunds or exchanges, free of charge, for incorrect or non-working products. They are barred from misrepresenting goods and services and must disclose restrictions or conditions on refunds, repurchases or exchanges. They are also banned from selling and failing to properly dispose of, customers’ personal information.

Defendants who settled are: Rafael Martin Hernandez, Maria Gisella Carrasco, Maria Elizabeth Vera, Hispanic Global Way Corp., Hispanic Global Way LLC, Hispanic Global Way Venez Corp, Hispanic Global Way Venez 1 Corp, Gold Lead USA Corporation, Sky Advance Choices Corp., Sky Advance LLC, First Airborne Service Trading Corp, Hispanic Network Connections LLC, and Fast Solutions Plus Corp. The FTC is seeking default judgments against Grand Team Service Corp. and Roberto Carrasco Macedo.

The court order includes a $50 million judgment that will be suspended following surrender of all of the defendants’ significant assets, including Carrasco’s North Miami house, U.S. and Peruvian bank accounts, and jewelry; a 2010 Mercedes Benz owned by Hispanic Way; and a life insurance policy and U.S. and Peruvian bank accounts owned by Hernandez.