Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum has filed a lawsuit against two Utah companies for allegedly using deceptive practices to get consumers to buy expensive website-creation products and services.
Imergent, Inc., and StoresOnline, Inc., run seminars in Florida and other states at which they tell consumers they can make a fortune doing business on the internet with the companies' software and related services.
According to the lawsuit, the companies mislead consumers into thinking their products are easy to use and that they will provide technical support and business partners.
"Many Florida consumers have been victimized by these types of get-rich-quick schemes and this type of behavior will not be permitted to continue," McCollum said.
Imergent and StoresOnline lure consumers to seminars at local hotels and other venues with offers of "free training," free meals and free gifts, the complaint alleges. Teams from the companies were in Central Florida late last year and are expected to be in North Florida in the near future.
More than 80 Florida consumers have complained to the Attorney General about the companies, which frequently make sales presentations in Florida. The complaints state that after paying thousands of dollars, consumers found the software and services were impossible to use and they couldn't get the technical assistance that was promised.
Instead of providing help, Imergent and StoresOnline referred buyers to other companies with which they have contracts and, according to the lawsuit, these companies wanted consumers to pay thousands more. The lawsuit further alleges the companies failed to deliver on helping consumers find business partners whose products could also be sold.
The companies also have lawsuits pending against them by Attorneys General in North Carolina, Illinois and California. Other complaints have led to consumer protection agreements in Indiana, Louisiana, Texas and Utah, as well as Australia.
McCollums lawsuit is seeking compensation for buyers and penalties under the states Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. The lawsuit also calls for changes in the companies' practices including full disclosure of the limited scope of technical assistance.