FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Cindi Perantoni, [email protected]
Cristina Bermudez, [email protected]
MIAMI FEDERAL JUDGE ENTERS & UNSEALS TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER IN FTC ACTION AGAINST SOUTH FLORIDA-BASED TELEMARKETING COMPANY FOR DECEPTIVE PRACTICES AIMED AT SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS
GJB Shareholder Jonathan E. Perlman Appointed Temporary Receiver
MIAMI, FL (May 24, 2018) – Last week, U.S. District Court Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga of the Southern District of Florida unsealed a temporary restraining order entered earlier this month halting a Florida-based telemarketing and robocall operation in an action brought by the FTC for deceptive practices aimed at small business owners by falsely claiming an affiliation with Google, falsely threatening business with removal from Google’s search engine, and falsely promising prominent results in Google search results.
The order, entered on May 8th and unsealed on May 18th, established an asset freeze over the defendants’ assets during litigation and appointed Jonathan E. Perlman, shareholder at Miami-based Genovese Joblove & Battista, P.A. (GJB), as Temporary Receiver. Perlman will assume full control over the Receivership entities listed below and all related operating entities to preserve the value of assets. The case is Federal Trade Commission v. Pointbreak Media, LLC, et al., Case No. 18-61017-CIV—ALTONAGA/Seltzer (S.D. Fla).
Defendants include a group of South Florida-based individuals and companies, including Pointbreak Media, LLC, also d/b/a Point Break Media, Point Break Solutions and Kivanni Marketing; DCP Marketing, LLC, also d/b/a Point Break; Modern Spotlight LLC; Modern Spotlight Group LLC, also d/b/a Modern Spotlight; Modern Internet Marketing LLC; Modern Source Media, LLC, also d/b/a Modern Source; Perfect Image Online LLC; Dustin Pillonato; Justin Ramsey; Aaron Michael Jones, also known as Michael Aaron Jones and Mike Jones; Ricardo Diaz; Michael Pocker; and Steffan Molina.
According to the complaint filed by the FTC, the Defendants, through a maze of interrelated companies, engaged in a telemarking and robocall scam targeting small business owners with false threats of removal from Google’s search engine and false promises of unique key words in order to convince them to purchase a Google "claiming and verification" service for $300-$700. Following the initial sales pitch, the Defendants would additionally target paying consumers with an upsell falsely promising that the consumer’s business would receive first-page placement in Google search results for a one-time payment of $949.99 and recurring monthly payments of $169.99 or $99.99 for search engine optimization services.
The FTC asserts that the Defendants utilized Google’s "Google My Business" service as its sales pitch and since November 2016, has placed thousands of threatening robocalls to small business owners and other consumers claiming to be authorized by Google and threatening that Google will label the consumers business as permanently closed until the consumer takes action.
According to the FTC, the Defendants are not service providers for Google and have no affiliation with nor authorization from the company. In fact, small business owners face no real risk of being removed from Google search results because Google does not label a business as permanently closed or remove it from search results simply because the business owner has not claimed and verified the business.
"I am pleased to be able to assist the court and consumers in this matter," said Perlman. "We will conduct a complete investigation and determine the best manner in which to proceed on behalf of the small business owners that may have dealt with the defendants. My team and I look forward to helping the court delve deeper into the intricacies of this matter for the benefit of the consumers."
Perlman is represented by attorneys Gregory M. Garno, Jesus Suarez, Maxine K. Streeter and Theresa Van Vliet, also of Genovese Joblove & Battista. Perlman has served as a court-appointed receiver in numerous actions brought by federal agencies, including the Securities and Exchange Commission and FTC. Currently, he is the court-appointed receiver over a massive debt relief operation that through a maze interrelated companies, including 321 Loans and Helping America Group, engaged in a debt relief scheme that defrauded 15,000 over $70 million. He is also serving as receiver in a Miami-based invention-promotion scam perpetrated by World Patent Marketing and its CEO, Scott Cooper. He also recently completed the distribution of millions of dollars to victims of the Creative Capital Ponzi scheme orchestrated by South Florida resident George Theodule, who is presently incarcerated.
The Defendants are expected before the court on June 6 to show cause, if any, why the court should not enter a preliminary injunction enjoining the violations of law alleged by the FTC, continuing the freeze of assets and the receivership, and imposing such additional relief, as may be appropriate.
Anyone having knowledge concerning the allegations in this case and financial affairs of the Receivership entities is encouraged to contact the Receiver’s team by sending an email to [email protected] or calling the Receiver’s Receivership Hotline at 1 (844) 635-1608. Additional information can be found on the Receiver’s website at www.pointbreakreceivership.com or on the FTC’s website.
About Genovese Joblove & Battista, P.A.
Genovese Joblove & Battista, P.A. (GJB) was established in 1999 by founding partners John H. Genovese, Michael D. Joblove, and Paul J. Battista. Today, GJB has grown steadily to become a major regional firm with offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Fort Myers as well as an affiliate office in Caracas, serving clients throughout the U.S. GJB attorneys are recognized for their experience representing clients in large and complex litigation in a number of areas, including bankruptcy, insolvency, receiverships, franchises, and general commercial matters, as well as white collar, real estate, employment law, class actions, and securities litigation. The firm and its affiliate, GJB Consulting, also counsel clients in local, state and federal government matters. For more information, visit www.gjb-law.com.