Operators of scheme targeting Hispanic consumers banned
by James O’Connor
Cream Group, Inc., which operates as Oro Marketing, and its mastermind Sami Charchian have agreed to a permanent ban on telemarketing to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they targeted Spanish-speaking women with false promises that they could make money reselling brand-name goods, such as Gucci and Ralph Lauren.
The agency alleged that, far from fulfilling their promises, the California-based defendants charged hundreds of dollars up-front for shoddy, generic products. The FTC settlements require Oro and Sami Charchian to turn over virtually all of their assets to the agency, and prohibit them from deceiving consumers in any future sales pitches.
“These defendants preyed on people who were just trying to make an honest living,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Consumers are better off now that the defendants are out of the telemarketing business.”
According to the FTC’s complaint, Oro and its principals charged consumers between $400 and $490, and then shipped them off-brand products instead of the brand-name products they had promised. Consumers who refused to pay for the products were threatened with arrest, phony lawsuits, referrals to immigration authorities, and other intimidating statements.
On December 3, 2013, a U.S. district court judge entered an order temporarily halting Oro’s business practices. The judge subsequently granted the FTC’s request for a preliminary injunction, appointed a receiver, and froze the company’s assets pending trial.
One final order imposes a $5,170,953 judgment against Cream Group, Inc. and Sami Charchian, equal to the total revenues of their telemarketing scheme. The judgment will be partially suspended after they have turned over virtually all of their assets to the FTC, and will become due in full if they are later found to have misrepresented their financial condition. In addition, the order requires the relief defendants to transfer rental properties they own to the court-appointed receiver to sell.
The other final order imposes a judgment of $375,000 against John Charchian, representing his ill-gotten gains from the telemarketing scheme, according to the FTC.
Image: Jamie Pappas