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

Feb 16, 2022, 6:43 PM | Updated: Dec 30, 2022, 11:21 am

(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:

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Crime, Police + Courts

Donald Trump at podium...

Lauren del Valle and Kara Scannell, CNN

Trump fraud trial begins in New York on Monday: What to know

Trump inflated his net worth by as much as $3.6 billion in three separate years between 2011 and 2021, according to the attorney general’s office.

59 minutes ago

Ambulance and first responders...

Ashley Fredde,

Murray police searching for driver who police say hit and killed a pedestrian in Murray

MURRAY — Murray police are looking for a driver who police say hit and killed a pedestrian in a hit-and-run crash Friday night. About 9:45 p.m., a pedestrian was about 30 feet south of a crosswalk in the northbound lanes of 900 East and approximately 6300 South in Murray, police said. The fatal crash may […]

2 hours ago

Photo of a SLCPD cruiser...

Devin Oldroyd

SLCPD arrests three suspects in Sunday morning shooting investigation

A Salt Lake City Police Department investigation resulted in the arrest of three individuals involved in a shooting early Sunday morning.

18 hours ago

SALT LAKE CITY — An infant’s body has been located after the mother was charged with planning ...

Mary Culbertson

Infant body found after mother arrested, charged with planning his death

An infants body was located after the mother was arrested and charged with aggravated murder and took police to the location she said she left the body, off I-80 near Parleys Canyon.

22 hours ago

SAINT GEORGE, Utah -- A high-speed pursuit started in St. George Saturday and ended in Mesquite, Ar...

Derrick Jones

Shots fired in southern Utah pursuit

St. George police pursued a man through southern Utah, Nevada, and Arizona after he attempted to break into a home.

1 day ago

the South Salt Lake Police Department announced they are searching for fourteen-year-old Easther Ra...

Derrick Jones

South Salt Lake Police Department searching for fourteen year old

SALT LAKE CITY — In a Facebook post, the South Salt Lake Police Department announced they are searching for fourteen-year-old Easther Rai. According to the post, Easther left home Saturday morning after 6:00 a.m.  According to the police, her safety is of great concern as she has no history of running away. Easther is 4’10” […]

2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

Human hand holding a protest banner stop vaping message over a crowded street background....

Prosperous Utah Communities

Utah’s Battle to Protect Youth from Vaping Epidemic Faces New Threat as Proposed Rule Threatens Progress

Utah's strict standards of nicotine levels in vaping products are at risk, increasing health hazards associated with use. Read more about how you can advocate for a better future for Utah's youth.

Aerial photo of Bear Lake shoreline with canopies and people camped out on the beach...

Visit Bear Lake

Last-Minute Summer Vacation Planning? Check Out Bear Lake!

Bear Lake is the perfect getaway if you are last-minute summer vacation planning. Enjoy activities with your whole family at this iconic lake.

close up of rose marvel saliva blooms in purple...

Shannon Cavalero

Drought Tolerant Perennials for Utah

The best drought tolerant plants for Utah can handle high elevations, alkaline soils, excessive exposure to wind, and use of secondary water.

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