The United States FTC (Federal Trade Commission), in coordination with the Better Business Bureau, has charged nine people and corporations based in Canada and the United States with operating a company that made unsolicited telephone calls to small businesses and other organizations demanding that they pay for unordered directory listings, SEO services, or website design and hosting services.
In one case, Premium Business Pages called a small business up to four times a day, demanding payment for search engine optimization services–even though the business did not have a website. These charges are only a small part of a total of 24 actions involving defendants who allegedly perpetrated scams against small businesses. Calling this Operation Main Street, these 24 actions involve over $292 million.
According to the FTC, Premium Business Pages, along with nine individuals and companies, have been charged with “operating a common enterprise that, since at least 2013, has made unsolicited calls to small businesses and other organizations to induce them to pay for unordered Internet directory listings, search engine optimization services or website design and hosting services.”
In the case of Premium Business Pages, the “defendants allegedly targeted consumers using various different business names, including Premium Business Pages, Ameteck Group, The Local Business Pages and Data Net Technologies.” Here’s a full list of who has been charged:
- Ameteck Group, Marketing Midwest, Midwest Marketing, and Midwest Marketing Inc.
- Midwest Advertising & Publishing Inc., a Quebec corporation, also doing business as Midwestern Advertising and Publishing and Global Site Design
- The Local Business Pages, a Quebec company
- Premium Business Pages Inc., a Delaware corporation
- Ametech Group LLC, a dissolved Nevada limited liability company
- Ameteck Group LLC a Delaware limited liability company
- Data Net Technologies, LLC, a Georgia limited liability company
- Rémy Munilla, individually; as an owner, officer, or director of Defendants 9140-9201 Québec Inc. and Midwest Advertising & Publishing Inc.; and as an owner and/or manager of Defendants The Local Business Pages, Premium Business Pages Inc., Ametech Group LLC, Ameteck Group LLC, and Data Net Technologies, LLC
- Carol Beaudoin, individually, and as an owner, officer, or director of Defendant Premium Business Pages Inc.
In the official complaint, the FTC is alleging violations of these:
- Section 5(a) of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. § 45(a), prohibits “unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce.”
- Misrepresentations or deceptive omissions of material fact constitute deceptive acts or practices prohibited by Section 5(a) of the FTC Act.
Specifically, in count 3 of the complaint, the FTC charges that the defendants I’ve listed above have been charged with the following: “In numerous instances, in connection with the offering for sale or sale of Internet directory listings, search engine optimization services, and website design and hosting services, Defendants have represented, directly or indirectly, expressly or by implication, that consumers owe money to Defendants for one of Defendants’ services.”
The FTC is not asking for a specific amount–they are looking to order a freeze of the assets of the defendants, have a permanent injunction against the defendants to prevent future violations, and award an amount that will refund the money paid by consumers. They’re also looking to award “additional relief” as the court may determine.
From the complaint:
“A. Award Plaintiff such preliminary injunctive and ancillary relief as may be necessary to avert the likelihood of consumer injury during the pendency of this action and to preserve the possibility of effective final relief, including, but not limited to, temporary and preliminary injunctions, and an order freezing assets; 11
B. Enter a permanent injunction to prevent future violations of the FTC Act by Defendants;
C. Award such relief as the Court finds necessary to redress injury to consumers resulting from Defendants’ violations of the FTC Act, including, but not limited to, rescission or reformation of contracts, restitution, the refund of monies paid, and the disgorgement of illgotten monies; and
D. Award Plaintiff the costs of bringing this action, as well as such other and additional relief as the Court may determine to be just and proper.”
BBB Complaints Against Premium Business Pages
The BBB currently has 8 complaints against Premium Business Pages, owned by Ms. Carol Beaudoin:
You can read all of the BBB’s complaints against Premium Business Pages, owned by Ms. Carol Beaudoin, here.
Rémy Munilla has also been named as a defendant in this case. Rémy Munilla’s Facebook profile appears to be here. He appears to have posted some photos related to Google, including a “I don’t need Google, my wife knows everything” t-shirt.