A fraudster who fleeced desperate consumers with work-at-home offers and other scams has been forced to hand over his luxury car, rental properties and precious metals to settle Federal Trade Commission charges.
Wayne Verderber, II, and his company, Independent Marketing Exchange Inc., were charged by the FTC during a 2010 crackdown against work-related scams called "Operation Bottom Dollar." The operation resulted in lawsuits against several schemes that had taken advantage of job seekers with false promises of jobs in the federal government, as movie extras and as mystery shoppers. Other schemes advertised money-making opportunity for stuffing envelopes and assembling ornaments.
According the FTC's complaint, Verderber, a.k.a. Wayne Verd and Brian West, and his New Jersey-based operation had preyed on consumers since 2000 with lies of earning easy money while working from home, lies such as these: "We'll send you a check every Friday for work done that week from your home! GUARANTEED! $$$ PROBLEMS ... CONSIDER THEM SOLVED!"
The defendants' Internet ads also promised financially strapped consumers "big weekly paychecks" for what the FTC called a "smorgasbord of work-at-home opportunities," including a mystery shopping scheme and other opportunities for mailing envelopes and postcards.
The envelop mailing scam, for instance, set consumers back $22 for a get-started package that included neither envelopes, names nor addresses. Instead, it contained only fliers that advertised work-at-home jobs, with instructions for consumers to place their addresses on them before posting them on bulletin boards, trees and telephone poles.
Only when hapless job seekers responded to the fliers with self-addressed, stamped envelopes did the consumers stand to earn any money at all. According to the FTC, few, if any, consumers managed to earn "substantial income."
Verderber and his company, the FTC charged, also "injured numerous consumers," particularly stay-at-home and single mothers.
The defendants also did business as National Data Management; N.D.M.; Global Mailing Services; G.M.S.; Independent Mailing Services; Independent Mailing Services Inc.; I.M.S.; Independent Shoppers Network; Independent Shoppers; Success At Home; Success-At-Home Mailing; IMEX; IMEX Inc.; and Continental Publishing Company.
The settlement order against Verderber and Independent Marketing Exchange bars them from making deceptive claims about goods and services, and required them to provide proof for earnings claims they make.
The settlement also imposed a penalty of $919,000, which will be suspended when Verderber hands over the following: a 1999 Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan; 100 1 oz. silver bars; seven one-quarter ounce gold rounds; and three rental properties in New Jersey (one in Galloway and the other two in Atlantic City).
If it turns out Verderber lied about his financial condition, the full $919,000 will be due immediately.