You are here

“Free trial” scammers settle, surrender millions

Share this page

In 2010, the FTC sued Jeremy Johnson, his company IWorks, and nine others for allegedly taking more than $280 million from people with a deceptive “free trial” scheme. Now Johnson, his family members, and more than two dozen corporate defendants have settled FTC charges and will give up millions of dollars in cash, stock, jewelry, aircraft, real estate and other assets. In a separate criminal case brought by the U.S. Department of Justice, Johnson was sentenced to more than 11 years in prison after a federal jury in Utah convicted him of making false statements to a bank in connection with the IWorks scheme.

IWorks’ websites promoted government grants and money-making products, and offered "free" information at no risk. But, according to the FTC, when people gave their credit or debit card numbers to pay a supposedly small shipping and handling fee for the information, IWorks charged them one time fees as high as $129.95, and recurring monthly fees, all without their knowledge or permission. In February 2011, a court froze the assets of Johnson and dozens of other defendants so the money could ultimately go back to consumers. Three remaining defendants go to trial in October 2016. After all proceedings are complete, the FTC hopes to issue refunds to people who lost money in the IWorks scheme.

If you’re looking for government grants or ways to make money, the FTC has tips to help you avoid getting ripped off. If you signed up for a free — or low cost — trial, and were charged more than you agreed to, please report it to the FTC.


Tagged with: free trial, scam
Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit


I fell victim to "FREE TRIAL OFFER" by the Whitening Coach.
I gave them my visa card for what I thought was a charge of $3.87 for the shipping charges of the sample. I clicked on the agree button thinking that I was agreeing to paying the shipping charges for the sample. I received the sample and the charge for the shipping appeared on that month's statement. I was not impressed with the sample product so I did not respond to them thinking that the transaction was closed.
I did not receive anything else. However, in the following month's credit card statement there were three charges from them amounting to $291.63. When I called them they said that by clicking "agree," I agreed to enter their program and that the charges are not reimbursable. However, they agreed to forgive $100 which I refused hoping that CITI VISA would deny the charges since I had not authorized those three payments. Unfortunately, VISA was not of any help.
Clearly these people are running a scam.

Please report the problem to the FTC at The information you give will go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations.

Don't be fooled by Natural Ceramides Youth Cream. You will be billed excessive amounts on a monthly basis with no way to contact them to stop sending their products.

You can report a scam to the FTC at The information you give will go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations.

Beware of a product Luminis Advanced Skincare. Sent for a sample for which I paid $5.95 for S&H. Fourteen days later my credit card account is slammed for a charge of $98.71 because, by accepting the sample and declining enrollment in the program within 14 days I was automatically enrolled. The credit card billing name was JET*FIVAFACESERUM. Beware!!

This is useful information for a complaint. Please report this to the FTC at The information you give will go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations.

Here's a crazy new idea for solving unwanted and undisclosed charges on credit cards, for "free trials". Create an option on credit cards that means: the company can only make one and ONLY ONE charge to this credit card. If the consumer then decides they wants the whole product, they use a different card.

OK, I'll admit this may sound like fantasy land, but with all the other magic we can do electronically; why not?

I just got scammed with those free samples. over drawn. took 85 and 97 and 98 dollars out this month. I'm 71 and only receive SS. The bank would not do anything the companies would not give back my money even though I did not open the product and returned it. is there anyway to get my money back?

I fell for the same scam, but it didn't stop with the face cream, which they finally agreed I could keep for $36. Then there was the added on eye cream, which they charged me for and said I only cancelled the face cream and not the eye cream subscription. To add insult to injury, they started charging my credit card $4.95 per month. For the first two months, I didn't notice it, but on the third month, 10 days after the charge was placed, I noticed and called them. That was a charge for the Internet portal to their beauty website or something like that. They said I didn't cancel that piece of the subscription. It is hard to believe that people are this dishonest just trying to rip others off.

I was scammed by the beauty products also but when I saw charges on my credit card for $89.00, all I had to do was dispute the charge and my credit card refused the charge.

Satin Instant Wrinkle Refucer Free Trial, for $3.95. There was no 14 days cancellation on any of the screens that I saw before placing shipping and handling cost of $3.95. No place on the screen did I see that I would be charged $99.95 each month for a autoship after 14 days either. I was hung up on the first time I called about this Two unauthorized bank charges. I'm reporting this has Free Trial Fraud!!! Because there was no free trial information listed on the email receipt of $3.95. Total Fraud Amount $199.90.

Quite a while back, I ordered 2 jars of (trial)face cream.
I paid for them,and thought that was the end of it. The next thing I knew, I had two large charges on My statement. I disputed the charges, and the company sent an invoice I never received. Needless to say, I lost the case and money.

I have been unable to even find a phone number for the product I ordered. How does one get the products and charges from coming?

You could check the website for a customer service contact, look for contact information on the package or product, or see if there is contact information on your credit card statement.

I ordered Free trials for 4.95. There was absolutely no word that I was going to have any other charges for anything else. Once they got my debit card number, charges came in to total 637.00. "Skin Care" companies are all over the internet under different names; but it's the same company. One of the names is Suisse Skin Serum. They must have millions by now,as they are still operating all over the globe, stealing people's hard earned money.

I used to work for a registered agent that provided a mail forwarding service. During my last couple months there I received several letters from the BBB to a company called "Crème La Miracle" I know they are not a Wyoming Company as I have tried to find them on the Secretary of States website. If you would like a copy of the letter. It also has a copy of the complaint on the back.

Why doesn't the government make a law prohibiting companies from asking for your credit card number for a free trial?

REGEN-A Ageless Moisturizer Free Sample offer is a Scam. You sign up for a free sample and then 15 days later they charge you $89.97. I never even opened the bottle. There must have been fine print that was too small to read somewhere. When trying to cancel they try to lower the month cost to $20 to keep getting it, but they refuse to refund the $89.97. Why aren't these people shut down?

I received a check for $342.35 for the I Works refund .
Thank you FTC for doing a great job by bringing these scam artist to justice .


Leave a Comment