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Scam Watch

December 30, 2007|David Colker

The pitch: "The Lord taught me business strategy models!"

The scam: Perhaps they came from the other direction. According to charges made by the Federal Trade Commission, J.W. McLain held "healthcare conferences" at hotels and convention centers. At these venues, he and his sons sold business ventures, for more than $2,000 apiece, that would grow into "a multimillion-dollar business in one year or less." The FTC charged that the ventures were bogus. On the side, McLain sold herbal teas that purportedly prevented or cured AIDS, arthritis, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, strokes and lupus. The FTC did not view this venture as heavenly either.

The outcome: In a settlement with the FTC, McLain and family members agreed to an order against them for more than $26.5 million. But because of their sworn inability to pay that much money, the agency said it would instead take frozen assets and proceeds from their various enterprises. As part of the settlement, the McLains did not admit to any wrongdoing.

The advice: The FTC makes available several online publications concerning get-rich-quick business opportunities at www.ftc.gov/bizopps. Also, there are warnings about cure-all scams at www.ftc.gov/cureall.

-- David Colker

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