CRIME, POLICE + COURTS

Millions to be paid for Utah’s largest real estate scheme settlement

Mar 28, 2024, 5:00 AM

IRS texts are bogus. Picture shows a sign saying "warning, scam alert" on a keyboard...

Over $10 million in refunds will go to victims of a Utah-based real estate scheme following the settlement of a lawsuit. (DepositPhotos)

(DepositPhotos)

SALT LAKE CITY — Over $10 million in refunds will go to victims of a Utah-based real estate scheme following the settlement of a lawsuit.  

The Federal Trade Commission and the Utah Division of Consumer Protection (UDCP) alleged that a Utah-based company, Response Marketing Group LLC, sold expensive real estate courses under false pretenses.

Some courses had a ticket price of $30,000. 

“We’ve heard stories of people going bankrupt. We’ve heard stories of families splitting up over the loss of income and the strain that this put on them,” said Katie Hass, director of the UDCP.

Two real estate celebrities, TV personality Scott Yancey and author Dean Graziosi, were defendants.

The settlement requires the companies, which include Nudge, LLC and BuyPD, LLC, to pay $15 million in refunds. Graziosi and Yancey will pay an additional $1.7 million.

These funds will go to 4,670 customers.

What happens next?

Unfortunately, most consumers will not recoup all the money they lost. Instead, they will get a percentage of what they invested in the real estate courses.

Additionally, the companies and defendants are permanently banned from selling “wealth creation” products and services anywhere in the country.

“This wasn’t their first rodeo taking money from people,” said Hass. “And now they are banned from any touch of this type of industry.”

This ban prevents the companies from starting up again under a different name. 

Now, the case has become something that authorities will use as an example.

“With the FTC, we were able to negotiate with many individual defendants in this, not just the entities but the individuals themselves,” said Hass. “It’s the first of its kind and we are now trying to replicate that in more and more of our cases.”

Don’t feel bad if you fall for a scam

Hass said that there is a lot of shame around falling for a scam. But scammers are cunning and savvy. 

Even if you feel embarrassed, Hass wants people to report issues to the Division of Consumer Protection

She said Utah seems to have more instances of “wealth creation schemes” than other places, so it’s important to be vigilant.

Additionally, she shared an acronym on how to be WISE consumers.

W= Watch for red flags

I= Investigate

S= Set Boundaries

E= Examine the fine print

Some red flags include: high-pressure sales, being taken into a separate room to be given a special offer  and claims that seem too good to be true.

Keep reading: Real estate agents, along with Utah residents, being scammed on Zillow

We want to hear from you.

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

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Millions to be paid for Utah’s largest real estate scheme settlement