More than 100 companies paid sums ranging from $190 to $550 for Tested Green's certificates, which the company claimed were endorsed by two independent firms. But both of these firms are owned by by Tested Green's owner, Jeremy Ryan Claeys (pictured right), says the FTC.
Claeys, a former journalist, was also a failed Republican candidate for Kansas Secretary of State, and ran the Tested Green scam while running for office."It's really tough for most people to know whether green or environmental claims are credible," David Vladeck, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. "Legitimate seals and certifications are a useful tool that can help consumers choose where to place their trust and how to spend their money. The FTC will continue to weed out deceptive seals and certifications like the one in this case."
Between February 2009 and April 2010, the FTC charged, Tested Green and Claeys advertised, marketed, and sold environmental certifications using the now-defunct website www.testedgreen.com and spamming prospective consumers. The company's marketing literature falsely claimed Tested Green was the "nation's leading certification program with over 45,000 certifications in the United States."
But according to the FTC, Tested Green never tested any of the 129 companies it provided with environmental certifications, and would "certify" anyone willing pay a fee of either $189.95 for a "Rapid" certification or $549.95 for a "Pro" certification. Due to the nature of the FTC investigation, the agency declined to release names of business who purchased the fake certificates, but it is possible to find mentions of "Certified Tested Green" on the websites of some firms taken in by Claeys.
After customers paid for the useless certification, Tested Green supplied them with its logo and a link to a "certification verification page" that could be used to advertise their "certified" status, which the agency said violated the FTC Act by providing the means to deceive consumers.
The FTC accused Tested Green of further deceiving customers by citing endorsements from the National Green Business Association and the National Association of Government Contractors – misleading customers into thinking they were independent organizations, even though both are owned by Claeys.
The proposed order settles the FTC's filing against Nonprofit Management, LLC and Jeremy Ryan Claeys, both of whom did business as Tested Green, and prohibits them from misrepresenting that:
- An outside party has evaluated a product, service, package, or program based on its environmental attributes.
- They have or a third party has the expertise to evaluate the environmental benefits or attributes of a product, service, package, or program.
- They have issued a particular number of certifications.
- A product, package, certification, service, package, or program is endorsed by any person or organization.