Utah company ordered to pay back millions after alleged real estate scam

Feb 16, 2022, 6:43 PM | Updated: 6:47 pm
(Photo: Getty Images)...
(Photo: Getty Images)
(Photo: Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Department of Commerce and the FTC reach a massive settlement with a Utah business that reportedly scammed thousands of people across the country out of over $100 million in a real estate scam.

Real estate scam

Investigators say Zurixx LLC and its executives, Cristopher Cannon, James Carlson and Jeffrey Spangler had thousands of victims all across the U.S.  They say the company would use telemarketers and high-pressure sales tactics to convince people to attend a “free” or low-cost seminar. At the seminar, they would learn more about flipping houses.  However, company officials reportedly lied about how much money their victims would get in return.

Utah Department of Commerce Executive Director Margaret Wooley Busse said, “Almost none of them saw any kind of return.”

Busse also says the company would convince their victims to buy into a more expensive real estate seminar. Then another, and another and so on.  They also would allegedly encourage investors to open new credit cards, promising the profits would cover their debts.  She says the scammers even had celebrity endorsements from Tarek and Christina El Moussa from “Flip Or Flop” and Hilary Farr from “Love It Or List It” to make the seminars seem more credible.

“[They] use high-profile celebrities to endorse their work and say, ‘Hey, you can have a lifestyle like us if you just participate in this,’” Busse said.

(Utah Department of Commerce Executive Director Margaret Wooley Busse explains the details of the alleged scam. Photo: Paul Nelson)

Scams like this do tremendous harm to the economy, according to Busse.  She says this hurts the confidence in other, legitimate investment opportunities.  She also says fraudsters like this get help from other scammers.

Busse said, “They often operate off of lists that have been sold to them of people that have already been caught up in other schemes that are maybe more vulnerable or gullible.  They already, kind of, know that these are a fresh target.”

Lawsuit settled

The company settled a lawsuit with the FTC and the UDCP to have them pay $12 million dollars. They say it is “pennies on the dollar” compared to the $111 million reportedly taken in the real estate scam.  Officials say this case had been ongoing for a long time. By the time a settlement was reached, the vast majority of the money was already spent.  However, Busse says this settlement sends a strong message to would-be fraudsters

She said, “This is, by far, the biggest settlement in our knowledge, in my knowledge, that the Department of Commerce’s Division of Consumer Protection has ever done.”

The defendants are also permanently banned from marketing or selling any real estate coaching programs in the future.

Read more:

Today’s Top Stories


Protesters hold signs and chant at the Utah Capitol in Salt Lake City on Friday, June 24, 2022, as ...
Curt Gresseth

Utah women’s reproductive-health doctor weighs in on Roe v. Wade ruling

A Salt Lake City doctor who specializes in women's reproductive health care weighs in on the Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade.
2 days ago
President Joe Biden speaks at the White House in Washington, Friday, June 24, 2022, after the Supre...

Biden calls abortion ruling ‘a sad day’ for country

He said the court has done what it's never done before in taking away a constitutional right that is so fundamental to so many Americans.
2 days ago
salt lake mayorMendenhall guns...
Curt Gresseth

After NY law is struck down, two Utah experts sound off on gun rights

Two advocates on either side of the gun-control vs. gun rights debate sound off on the Supreme Court's 6-3 ruling to expand the right to carry a firearm in public.
3 days ago
gun rights Utah abortion Boston Christian flag...
JESSICA GRESKO Associated Press

Supreme Court expands gun rights, striking down New York limits

The justices' 6-3 decision is expected to allow more people to legally carry guns on the streets of the nation's largest cities.
3 days ago
Petito lawsuit...
Maria Cartaya, CNN

A Florida judge is expected to make a decision in coming weeks on a lawsuit by Gabby Petito’s parents

Petito, whose disappearance last summer gripped the nation, was found dead in Wyoming after embarking on a cross-country trip with Laundrie, her fiance.
3 days ago
emotional abuse moab police petito domestic violence strangulation gabby petito investigation...
Amie Schaeffer

Wednesday’s hearing in Petito case to determine if suit will move forward

The wrongful death lawsuit in the Gabby Petito case was filed by Petito's parents in March of 2022. A hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.
4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Tax Harassment...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
Follow @ikeyospe...

Tax Tuesday: The Most Common Mistakes People Make When Filing Their Taxes

Fortunately, for most average earners, they will not end up owing overpayments received for the Child Tax Credit in 2021.
Follow @ikeyospe...

Tax Tuesday: How will last year’s child tax credits affect you?

Fortunately, for most average earners, they will not end up owing overpayments received for the Child Tax Credit in 2021.
Utah company ordered to pay back millions after alleged real estate scam