A Utah man believed to have significant property in Costa Rica, has been detained to face allegations that he ran a massive Internet enterprise that scammed consumers out of millions.
He is Jeremy D. Johnson, who has been in trouble with federal authorities since last year. He lives in St. George, Utah. He was detained Saturday in Phoenix, Arizona, when agents took him off a plane that was headed to Costa Rica.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission, the consumer watchdog, said in December that it took legal action against Johnson and nine other individuals who were involved with his I Works Web sites. The Federal Trade Commission said that O Work made millions of dollars by luring consumers into trial memberships for bogus government-grant and money-making schemes, and then repeatedly charging them monthly fees for these and other memberships that they never signed up for.
The Federal Trade Commission has charged the defendants with misrepresenting that government grants are available for paying personal expenses, that consumers are likely to obtain grants by using the defendants’ program, that users of their money-making products will earn substantial income, and that their offers are free or risk-free. The civil complaint also alleges that defendants failed to disclose that consumers who pay a nominal shipping and handling fee will be enrolled in expensive plans that charge consumers fees until they cancel, and that the defendants charged consumers’ credit cards and debited their bank accounts without their consent.
Criminal complaints in these consumer cases usually mirror the civil ones. The civil complaint names 10 corporations, and 51 shell companies as defendants. The Federal Trade Commission seeks the return of $275 million to Johnson’s customers. There was no indication that the operation was run out of Costa Rica.