How to Buy a Lamborghini in 5 Easy Steps

June 24th, 2011

Step 1: Deceptively lure consumers into giving you their credit card numbers for shipping and handling charges on “free” or “risk-free” offers for products ranging from teeth-whitening to Acai Berry weight-loss pills.

Step 2:  Once you have the credit card information, charge the clients monthly recurring fees of around $80 or more for the “free” products.

Step 3:  Make it nearly impossible for customers to stop the charges or obtain refunds.

Step 4:  Continue this practice for a year or more.

Step 5:  Go buy your car.

According to the FTC, these are just some of the tactics that Jesse Willms and 10 companies he controlled used to defraud consumers from the U.S. and several other countries of over $450 million.  As for Jesse’s black Lamborghini, he hasn’t been seen in it since the FTC sued him for the $450 million in a Seattle federal court.

As for Jesse’s defense, it appears he may blame his victims.  In an April 2011 blog entry, Jesse wrote, “Users blindly agree to offer details and terms of service without reading them, and then are shocked when they are expected to live up to their side of the agreement. …  You can hardly blame a company for doing exactly what they told you they would do—and what you agreed to.”

UPDATE: In February 2012, Jesse settled the case with the FTC agreeing to a judgment of $359 million, which is to be suspended when he turns over bank account funds, and proceeds from the sale of corporate assets, his house, and personal property including a Cadillac Escalade, a fur coat, a fish tank, and art work.  According to a post on his blog, Jesse wrote that “[w]e are working to resolve issues relating to past marketing practices for products that our company no longer sells.  Through this process, we have taken steps to assure that our business practices are in full compliance with the law.  We are excited by the opportunity to continue giving customers access to a variety of products and services at significant savings.”  Do you think that’s code for “We’re excited to find new ways to rip you off?”

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A magical fruit that is advertised as the natural cure-all for any possible ailment; usually found in ads featuring beautiful, exotic women.

Short for a web log, a blog is a kind of online diary that normal, everyday people can maintain to share details of their life or discuss their interests. A word of warning, though – a ‘blog’ that may appear to from a normal working mom in Nebraska, may actually be an advertising scheme by a company to promote its product(s) under the guise of a neutral, third-party endorsement.

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