(Winston-Salem Journal (NC) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Jan. 29--RALEIGH -- The N.C. Attorney General's Office said Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing, a Lexington, Ky., company accused of being a pyramid scheme, was shut down Monday and its assets frozen.
Fortune has more than 100,000 participants, including an unidentified number in North Carolina. The attorneys general in Illinois, Kentucky and North Carolina joined with the Federal Trade Commission to ask a federal judge to shut down the company. A court-appointed receiver has possession of Fortune's assets and secured the company's headquarters and warehouse in Kentucky.
The attorneys general and the FTC filed a lawsuit Thursday in federal court against Fortune and its principal operators, Paul Orberson, president, and Thomas Mills, vice president. The lawsuit seeks a permanent ban on Fortune's "illegal operations," as well as civil penalties and refunds for consumers.
Participants paid $249 to join. However, to qualify for sales commissions and recruiting bonuses, they had to pay an extra $130 to $400 and agree to be billed monthly for products.
Despite Fortune's claims, the attorneys general claim more than 90 percent of participants lost more money than they made. Those who did make money did so by recruiting others to join the scheme, not by selling anything, they said.
North Carolina consumers can file a complaint about Fortune by calling (877) 5-NO-SCAM or online at www.ncdoj.gov.
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