Bad call, coach

Ever thought about responding to an enticing email or ad saying you could make money working from home? Then you might be interested to hear about the FTC’s case against the Coaching Department and its related companies, which the FTC alleges strung people along in a three-part scam that raked in tens of millions of dollars. For out-of-work people who got caught up in this business opportunity scam, it was a problem that went from bad to worse.

Here’s how it worked, according to the FTC:

Phase 1: It started with an email or online search result telling people they could run their own internet business from home. When people clicked through to the company’s sites, they found success stories of people who supposedly made real money with the system, and warnings that the program was quickly filling up. At a cost of less than $100, many people jumped at the chance.

Phase 2: Once people paid and got their work-at-home kit, the next pitch began. For anywhere from $3,000-$12,000 — often depending on a person’s available credit — they could be part of the business coaching program. Not just any program, the company said, but one for select, motivated people that could be “success stories” for marketing materials or infomercials. People “interviewed” for the opportunity would work hand-in-hand with coaches to help them succeed, so they’d easily make enough to pay off their debt in 3-6 months, the company said.

Phase 3: After people paid for the coaching program, they were hit up a third time. This time the pitch was for add-on services like website design or accounting services that would ensure success. People wanting to protect their already substantial investments in the company spent thousands more.

But no matter how much people bought or how hard they worked, most didn’t end up with a working online business. Besides making little to no money, they also ended up heavily in debt, the FTC says. The scam ended when people realized they’d been ripped off or reached the limits on their credit cards.

Many work-at-home opportunities are promoted by scam artists and will cost you more than you can earn. Learn more about evaluating work-at-home and other business opportunities at ftc.gov/bizopps.

Blog Topics: 
Jobs & Making Money

Comments

I GET 10-20 OF THESE TYPES OF SCAMS SENT TO ME EITHER BY POSTAL MAIL OR BY E-MAIL. IT'S ANNOYING...SHOULD I SAVE THE ONES I GET IN THE MAIL AND TAKE THEM TO THE F.B.I.?

You can file a complaint with the FTC online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP. If you call, you can talk to a counselor who can advise you whether to send in the notices you receive. Thanks.

If the business is listed with the BBB, isnt that a safer bet? and legitimate?

all you ever talk about here is after the fact and eveen though people were scammed they are held responsible for paying back the money, the thousands of dollars they don't have. they were SCAMMED and you offer no help for these people in getting their money back. obviously you are aware of these scams and the victim remains the victim. i know because it happened to me and i filled so many complaints with all your agency's and guess what, not one helped me. i spent over a year filing complaints with so many agency's and the best you did for me was the same thing your doing here is telling people how to avoid or be aware of a scam. that's great for preventing potential people from suffering the loss of thousands of dollars and the failed attempts of recovering their loss but for those who have already suffered this all i see is nothing. i find that your advise offers nothing for the people who are suffering for these work at home scams that has/is causing great hardship in their life. the credit card company's should be responsible in spotting these company's as possible scammers and contact the card holder warning them of the risk. after all it is the credit card that has the option to decline the charge or not. as in my case i was not even contacted by my credit card bank when a $9,000. charge was on my account. that was a red flag and i been called them and told them i had just been scammed when the charge was pending, not yet posted and they still did NOTHING for me. there are many ways to avoid scams but they continue to grow because you let them along with the banks. the fight for the consumer is relentless and in the end no results is gained for them. so political.

I had a person send me a $925.00 check. It looked authentic, I called to verify the check and it was one that was bought for $9.25 five years prior. So I reported it. $925.00 for doing nothing, ya right.

Hi Martin,

Very good thing you reported it -- I'm assuming to your state AG and/or us, the FTC, at FTC.gov/complaint. Complaints are important in helping the FTC protect consumers. Thank you!

--Lisa

Thanks for the warning. I know monies does not come that easy, unless it is a scam. I need to know if 5Links is a reputable business, pyramid schemes to deceived people into a business of luring people to sign up for credit protection & building a business by selling internet, phone services, & other items such as coffee & drink contents.

I am familiar with this as a few years ago I received information on the same and if were not for the fact that I just did not have the money or available credit I probably would have lost a lot through a program like such as you speak of - it was my hope that not all companies were alike and that not all people are dishonest. Life's hard knocks, not fun or funny, they come on hard and linger.

Your work is a great service for all people.

Ken and Babata Sonnenberg are crooks. It's sad that they got away with this for so long.

If it sounds too good to be true.....run like hell!

I too recently fell into the online business scam. I started out with a legite company company but was directed to a third party coach they hired on. Now that company and the company Supplier Source have been shut down by the FTC and I'm out over 25,000.00 between the two. Thank goodness the original company is helping amend the website problem but they can't help with the money part. Hoping it works itself out soon but that doesn't fly with the credit card companies.

I was recently taken for a long ride with a "start your own online business" scheme. Everything looked so official and they made everything sound almost guaranteed. It started with buying a simple $97 make money from home kit. Then I started receiving calls. It started with ISP (Internet Services Providers). I know, an original name, right? They charged me $8,600 to get into a "coaching program" Along the way they told me I needed additional services and coaches. I paid $3500 for the Daeus Buisiness Builder plan, $3500 for Daeus Buisiness Builder Plan, $3610 for Daeus Platinum Unlimited Package which included services by YES (Your Entity Solutions), $2990 for Daeus Tax Services plan, $12,500 for My Supplier Source enrollment. It looked like everything was in place. They had told me they would work with me until I reached my target of $8000-$12000 per month profit. Incidentally, I was also charged by I-site Biz Builder for $995 and Impact Rankings for $2150, both of whom assured me they were affiliated with the programs I already purchased and that they were necessary. They were not. In addition I paid to have a business phone line and fax line installed. Many of these "plans" I purchased also have recurring monthly fees. All together I'm out over $34,000. My credit cards are maxed out and my "coach" has disappeared. So beware of any offer to buy a home business "kit" and especially beware if you are contacted like I was. Watch out for the following: ISP(internet Service Providers), "the coaching program", Emblem Instructors, Daeus Financial, I-site BizBuilder, and Impact Rankings (supposedly helps you with social media marketing). I think I will have a hard time getting any of my money back, but if this helps prevent one person from falling into the snowballing trap I stepped into, then I feel my post is worth the time.

If you haven't already, you can file a formal complaint with the FTC online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP.

My story is almost exactly like eric 999. In addition to my "coach" being gone, "they" have control of my video and meta tag info so I am at a standstill. Their webinars were vague and incomplete and when I complained about that they said they were "being updated as we speak". They never were. I have contacted the FTC and they took my report and suggested I contact the CA Attorney General's office. I have now been on hold with that office for over 20 minutes.

My story is 100% identical to yours.. Exact same amount of money.. Around $34,000

Anyone else had a bad experience with companies offering to set up a home-based internet business? I'd be curious to see how many people dealt with the same people I did.

My story is exactly like Eric 999...I feel so ashamed and embarrassed! We need help!

We fell in to the same scam not quite as much money but not far. We even paid for a marketing plan and it was never done....extremely unhappy and seriously in debt.

I request that this site respond to the Feb. 24 comments by Nadeen, regarding the assumption of greater responsibilities by this agency, banking and credit card industries, for the growing epidemic of scams, identity and credit thefts.

If you want to change the agency's mission, you need to contact your congressperson. No federal agency has the authority to expand its mission in its own.

Agreed - A big problem with scams of this nature is that they provide false contact information, use spoofing software, VoIP systems, etc, which makes it hard and sometimes impossible to locate them. In situations like this, common sense needs to play a larger role. It is not always the responsibility of others to clean up after a someone who has fallen for a scam. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. And quite frankly - if you're having hard times, where'd you come up with the mega-investment to begin with?

If people did more research on the front end, rather than relying on someone to pick up the pieces on the back end, scams like this would be much less likely to occur!

I totally agree that consumers need to do more research and take responsibility for THEIR own actions. If it sounds too good to be true....then it is!! People need to learn how to just say no, research the company, and get back with them if they feel it is legitimate. If the company uses high pressure sales and is hesitant to give you a method to reach them back....RED FLAG people! I see these types of credit card disputes every day. The banks are not legal entities and are required to uphold any agreement/contract that a customer signs and agrees to. When we can't help them, they feel like we are not protecting them, and taking the merchant's side. In fact, we played no role in falling for the so-called scam to begin with.

I like eric999 was bilked into a very similiar situation with a different company that told me I needed this and that in order to accomodate the business. Besides the coaching, website, drop shipping contracts, there was the small business success for legal issues, and the domain site prices as well as the time and money spent placing and trying to sell on eBay. I am now out about 35,000 dollars which is on my credit cards. Like Nadeen I was not called either from my credit card companies even when $10000.oo was posted to my account. There must be some liability here for everyone. I got scammed but I guess I allowed it and I am not happy with myself for being some gullible. I always thought it happened to everyone else.

Everything seem to be very legitmate with The Coaching Department and did received what appeared to be legitimate services. As mentioned though companies just wanted more money exactly as described..you have to register an LLC, get tax services and Supplier Source. I do have a website running but no sales in 6 mos. Don't know what to do next? Is there anyway to get refunded? What aboutt he monthly fees still going on or will they stop now that the FTC has becomes part of this? Does anyone know?

In response to DAT, I don't know what will happen now that the FTC is involved. But, I seem to remember on the contracts I signed for the various services that you have to go through an arbitration process with a mediator (no lawyer allowed). In my case, I live in Ohio, but it has to take place in the state of Utah, where the servicing companies are based.

Hey Eric, I was so excited when I discovered the FTC was knowledgeable about these "Coaching" scam artist. I wonder if we had the same company in Utah. I am sure Utah must be full of them. Not knocking the people of Utah, but they must be living in HELL. I live in Florida and I still have the scoundrels calling me every other day to bait me. It is downright hysterical at time. I should have known these were Crooks. I sent them an email, talked to them on the phone, and told them they were Scam Artist. They garbled my email that I sent them. They don't know that I am the Queen of Copies. I am in debt for approximately $5000. 00 thousand dollars. They will try to twist your words, if you allow them. I had to listen very carefully and ask many questions. They have been trained to give "slick" answers. I would either tell them how far to stick it and/or hang up on them. I should have known it was a scam, when my "Coach" could not pronounce certain words, simple words that a high school grad should know, I knew something was horribly wrong. When I asked questions, she would put me on speaker and some of the other so-called Coaches would laugh and they would have great fun. I only put up with this for a month and a half. Now, I just discovered that I can complain to the FTC. I may not, like the rest of you, get my money back, but the Scammers won't get anymore of my money. It is so difficult trying to make an honest living. We have "way more Scam Artist", than honest people.

I've helped a great deal of people try to recover money from these boiler rooms, including the Coaching Department, and have put out hundreds of warnings. The main obstacle has always been that the sales floor promises are separated from the final contract that the people sign.

I'm very glad - but very curious as to how you are going to be able to ultimately win this case. At this point I'm assuming that you must have obtained actual phone calls?

Paul Schlegel

I'm afraid I've found myself in a similar position and don't even know what to do. I thought I would try to start this online business without telling my husband until I was successful. Not successful, credit cards are maxed out, I feel like a fool, can't even mention here what is going through my mind, I have such anxiety. How do I get my money back?

Eric 999, I too fell for the same exact scheme with the same exact companies as you. I am sickened to know that I will most likely never see that money again, but I will keep the faith that there will be something good that comes out of this multi-million dollar case. I hope the FTC actually does something about this particular case, because the level of cleverness and misuse of business tactics to achieve this multi-million dollar scheme is frightening. The internet is growing like crazy, and if the FTC doesn't act responsibly pretty quick, more companies will get away with it. The question that remains, those of us that fell victim of this coaching scam, where do we go from here?

If you haven't yet, you can file a complaint with the FTC online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP.

MLB, one thing I did was call Daeus and asked them to cancel all recurring fees for any programs I was enrolled in. The girl was friendly and actually told me that, yes, the coaching department had been shut down by the FTC. She recommended filing a complaint here, which I told her I did and she said to talk to your individual bank and credit card companies. The thing I never liked about any of the documents we signed was the 3 day rule: you have to cancel within 3 days in writing to get out of anything, which is nearly impossible. While companies like Daeus may be able to avoid liability someone should have to repay us for misrepresenting and not delivering the services promised. "My Supplier Source" for one promised me a website, working in conjunction with my "cocach" and even a you-tube commercial, facebook, and twitter, advertising - the works. Never heard another word once they got my money. I like to believe what goes around comes around, and I hope we can recover at least some of our money.

The Coaching department provided coaching services for over 50 separate marketing companies. If you were sold coaching services and have not already been contacted by the original marketing company that enrolled you then you need to contact them asap. Because the Coaching department has been shut down the marketing companies have obtained other coaching companies to provide those services. Some customers are getting additional coaching sessions free of charge cause of the inconvenience.
Also do not spend any money with any companies that call you claiming you need their services to succeed as I am hearing that is a big problem right now.

It is sad the the economy has gotten so bad, that normal, intelligent people are searching for a way to make money with dignity. When times are tough, the scam artists come out looking for fresh meat. Your right your credit card companies should have contacted you, unless you have a history of spending lots of money regularly. Our small bank saved us when we were caught up in the recent security breaches. Maybe, if you threatened to cancel your cards they may sing another tune to keep you. Especially now, since you will make them a small fortune in payments, credit rates, fees, etc. Hey, anyone checked to see if any of these freaks got some credit reports from say, wealthy neighborhoods to find some target victims. Target Marketing sort of ??? May God bring you to more wealth in the future.

Don't give up too easily on these scammers. I have found my credit card companies willing to look into the charges and any action against the parties involved. Also, don't be afraid to contact these companies. Wouldn't they rather give you your money back rather than go to jail or face even bigger public humiliation? I am not giving up. Please, write to your particular state's attorney general and file a complaint. I received a response the same day.

Can you comment on what happened in court on the 20th? Thank you

I believe the FTC filed about a 40 page complaint against the defendants in federal court. I'm not sure if that was on March 20th, but you can read the complaint on this site.

If you go the homepage (of FTC) and click on "enforcement" you will see cases and proceedings. The only thing I saw on Mar.20 was a settlement agreement with "Online Entrepreneurs", which I haven't seen related with the companies we are dealing with. If you search back further to February 24th, you will see Apply Knowledge. There are 2 PDF's. One is the complaint filed in federal court by the FTC, and the other is about the temporary restraining order and asset freeze of defendants.

A federal judge denied the FTC takeover of the companies. She said it might be fraud or it might not be, that will have to sorted out at trial. Perhaps they will reach a settlement agreement. This decision really angered me because it was misrepresented to me that I would make a certain range of income per month and make enough to pay off my credit cards in a few months. What a lie!

Only work from home thats legit are telework or profitable entrepreneurers...others are obviously scams. Those schemes leave you only looking and ready to invest in the next.. Click spam and move on don't waste your time there are jobclubs and recruiters everywhere with. contacts ready to hire

Thanks Eric for your information I am going to call Daeus and Seed Capital to see if I can get my money back and credit card company.

I had responded to a work from home opportunity to setup an ecommerce website on 4/30/13 which the cost was $97. Immediately following that, I was contacted by a rep from The Coaching Department who convinced me that owning an online website would be very lucrative. I was looking for a way to make some extra money so got scheduled to talk over the phone with another rep. The person I talked with during this call pressed very hard to sell me a coaching program and that I would be able to recoup costs in a relatively short period of time. He mentioned three levels with each level you were suppose to get more services. So I went with the 8695 level which included marketing and so I put it on my credit card. He had a big speech on using other people's money because in a relatively short period of time I would be making lots of money to pay this back. They made it sound like if you didn't sign up at this time someone else would get the great deal. I got 10 weeks of coaching, accounting mentor package (not sure what that is), web builder, drop shippers, ebay research software, marketing package. There was also a guarantee on this contract I signed after completing all of your coaching sessions, if the products and services did not meet or exceed your expectations we will work with you proactively at our own expense until you are completely satisfied. After looking at the contract it never mentioned the coaching department by name.

I did get a website out of this working with a mentor but have made only $150.00 with a total of $26635 invested. The things the mentor taught me I could of easily just picked up from the online training website we had access to it was nothing special. Then came the 12,500 price tag thru My Supplier Source for getting the website functioning and finding drop shippers in which they would do allot of the work for you says the representative and my mentor encouraged me to really look at this option. I almost took the bait but did not have the funds so I went with negotiated rate of 2500.00, what a bargain. Wasn’t' that suppose to be part of the coaching cost I asked of course not was the reply. So by then you were sucked into their scheme.

Then the endless barrage of phone calls from other entities Daeus Financial, Seed Capital and Strategic Tax Service to setup an LLC and establish credit and tax service and credit cards for a total of 17940. Daeus said it could take years to establish credit which they could accomplish in around 6 months so of course you went with the Biz Builder. After thinking about all of this you get a couple of credit cards to use for your business and then you are in business and it is easy to find drop shippers on your own. Stay away from these scams!

Deb, sounds like we fell for the exact same thing. I too received a call immediately after buying the $97 kit. I also felt my coach was not very helpful. I'm concerned with the products purchased from Daeus because of the contracts with no refunds. However, since The Coaching Department, and whoever started us down this path (Internet Service Providers, Emblem Instructors ?)convinced us we needed these products to succeed in our business, I think they should be responsible for refunding our money for all of those products. This is so frustrating. Let me know if you have any success in getting your money back and I will do the same.

I fell victim to the ApplyBuilder/ My Supplier Source?Daues/YES scam too and have spent over
$25,000 on this, which maxed out my credit card. I have a website, but cannot make my credit card payment now I am retired. I did put in a complaint to FTC, but have not heard from them. However, last week I was approached by Homeland Arbitrators from Delaware who said they could "help me get 100 % of my money back" but they wanted 40% of this. Looked them up and they are scamming people like us who have already been scammed. Be cautious!

Thanks for the heads-up, Weather Gal. I was contacted several months ago by a similar company. They wanted money up front so I didn't do that.

I too would like to know what happened at the hearing on March 20. Is Summit Mentoring still in business?
I am getting calls from another coaching department saying that Summit ask them to call me to set me up with a new coach. I have not responded. I have put chareg-backs on all my credit card accounts and I am praying that they will permanent.

I called Supplier Source, got a voicemail, got a call back from the Coaching Department saying they were temporarily suspended from talking to anyone for 6 weeks. He told me a federal judge now says they are free to again talk to customers. He was offering continuing services to make me "successful", but I have grave concerns about this. I did not commit to anything and am still going to pursue action with my credit card companies, FTC, and my state's attorney general, because this reinstatement does not take away the six weeks I lost and the promised dates of website creation, etc. These people and their affiliates have cost me $35,000 and from what I've been reading people who did get websites aren't making any money. The bottom line is they still want to sell services and products to people who are needy for money. Don't trust those calls offering free ongoing services. It's their way of getting out of paying us back.

One other thought. You all know how clever they were in seeming to cover all their tracks with the promises they made. Don't think they are not being clever and scheming on how to get out of this. I just want to warn people to be careful of what you say if you are contacted by any of the involved companies. They will try to get you to say something that will absolve them from liability. What a bunch of crooks!

I can't believe that they were reinstated they are
I am going to get all of my money back.

"Judge denies feds’ request to take over Utah companies" - SL Trib.

The FTC was in the wrong and took down a company that didn't deserve it. They identified ONLY 107 complaints out of 511,000 customers, in other words .00021% (much less than 1%). Why don't they go to some major university who teaches correct principles and shut them down because someone who just graduated can't seem to find a job. Is it the universities fault? Of course not! But the FTC can attempt to shut down this Coaching company for teaching correct principles to start an online business to people who want to be their own boss and work for themselves? That doesn't make any sense!

The majority of the employed hard-working people come from a "small business". So why try to control it? Less government = more opportunity for the American people.

I know there has to be more stories like the one's in this blog. How do we find others that have been led to the similar fate getting caught up in this scam and not being able to pay their bills. I would be curious to know out of the 511,000 people who is actually making money!

I got suckered!

What a joke if they do get reinstated! They deserve to go to jail. People like us have been robbed and we have little recourse. We can't let the crooks win!

That's a good question. I am also curious as to how many people are successful in the coaching program. I am one of them.

But I am more curious as to how many people, who are college graduates, actually applied what they learned and have jobs. That's a VERY small percentage. The reason is simple...they just don't apply what their professors taught them or are too lazy to find work because they want to live off the government.

I bet you have spent more than you have made. Or you must be working for them.

Funny how the FTC is so proud of taking these companies down, does a big press release about it, then fails to tell everybody how they lost in court. They must be embarrassed.

My story is exactly like Eric999...feel ashamed and embarrassed! Isn't there anything we can do to get our money back, especially if the FTC has shut them down, they know that they are bad people!

It's sometimes impossible to get money from scammers to be returned to consumers, but if there are refunds in an FTC case, the information will be posted it here. You can sign up to receive our press releases and stay informed on all FTC cases.

DO NOT deal with Ken Sonnenberg and the coaching department. They hooked me for $3000.00 and wanted more. When I saw that he and his so called coaches were scam artist I stopped immediately, filed a complaint with the BBB & the Idaho consumer protection agency and got 1/2 my money back. They told me I would be making 200.00 a day even in my sleep posting links. They also said they would build a website. That never happened either because they needed another $2,500.00 just to get started. DO NOT HAVE ANY DEALINGS WITH any of THESE SCAM ARTIST at the coaching department, Ken Sonnenberg and a coach named Travis are two I remember.

They are total crooks. All together they took me for $35,000. I bought in to their scheme and believed what they told me - that I would be making $8000 to $12000 per month and pay off my credit cards in 3 months. While my "supposed" website was being constructed, I had no contact with them. I tried reaching them in February and March but could not, because the Federal Trade Commission had determined that they were a fraud, and prohibited them from dealing with consumers. Now I am getting packages from my credit card companies with copies of contracts I signed, emails between me and coaches (they conveniently left out the emails where I was trying to find out about my website), and they are trying to re-charge me for the package that they did not deliver on. Read the 44 page complaint the FTC filed in Federal Court. You will see how these crafty operations work. The interconnectedness with other companies selling producst is amazing. They make you think you need all these products, but The Coaching Department operates under many different names, including Supplier Source.

Its people like FTC Garbage and Unhappy Camper, they both probably work for these companies or those who call and threaten little old ladies, that make me happy that we shutdown companies like these.

Has anyone heard anything lately regarding the law suit against the Coaching Department?

I don't have any details, but do know the FTC is still fighting this in court. I haven't seen anything lately, but originally the companies involved had a 6 week restraining order and their assets were put into receivership and investigation into the way these various companies were interconnected went forward. Since then, I believe a judge released the assets back to the companies (or at least some of them). The case is ongoing and these things can take a long time regardless of how fast the FTC tries to get things moving.

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