Celebrities are often used to market products or services, but sometimes they’re used to lure consumers into a scam. And that’s what the FTC alleges happened when two real estate celebrities joined forces with Nudge – a company (and its owners) that the FTC and the Utah Division of Consumer Protection (“Division”) sued in November of 2019 for deceptively selling training programs and other products to aspiring real estate investors.
The FTC and the Division filed a motion with the court to allow the FTC to amend the complaint to add as defendants Dean Graziosi, who is a self-described New York Times best-selling author, entrepreneur, and investor, and Scott Yancey from the reality television series “Flipping Vegas.” Since 2012, the FTC says, they’ve each earned about $10 million as the two celebrities that Nudge primarily used to market and give credibility to its real estate training scheme. Among other things, Graziosi and Yancey have appeared in infomercials and direct mailings that encouraged people to attend free events designed to help sell training and coaching packages, often through telemarketing, that cost thousands of dollars. According to the proposed amended complaint, which alleges the celebrities assisted with Nudge’s telemarketing operation, the two celebrities knew about numerous complaints describing how Nudge had swindled people, and they strategized about ways to counteract the negative online reviews – including discussions about posting fake positive reviews to Graziosi’s page on Trustpilot and to Yancey’s Yelp profile.
The upshot? If you’re tempted by an opportunity – even one promoted by a celebrity – that says you can earn a lot of money on an investment with little or no risk, don’t buy into the hype. Learn more about investment and business opportunity seminars, and if you know about an investment scam, tell the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.