Business Opportunity Fraud in Florida
In the United States, there is heavy state and federal regulation on the selling of fake jobs or other revenue promising opportunities. Perpetuating false claims of this nature is known as business opportunity fraud. Typically, business opportunity fraud involves marketing false occupations or grants in an attempt to generate profit from an unwitting individual. Unfortunately, the government is often overzealous in pursuing potential leads of business opportunity fraud, investigating innocent people in regards to serious charges. If you or someone you know is ever in this situation, it is critical that you first seek the counsel of a criminal defense attorney prior to speaking with law enforcement. Do not put yourself in a situation where you could unknowingly implicate yourself in a crime during a seemingly benign conversation with law enforcement.
Florida State Regulation
Florida state law defines business opportunity fraud as any fraudulent transaction where the sale or lease of services, products, or supplies is sold to help the buyer start a business. In most cases, for a transaction to be considered business opportunity fraud, the transaction must meet the following criteria:
- The value of the initial transaction exceeded $500.00;
- The seller promised to provide information regarding where to place revenue-generating machinery, i.e. vending machines or ATMs, on properties that the seller does not own or lease;
- The seller offered to provide a sales program where the buyer can generate revenue from the opportunity without engaging in a trademark or licensing agreement;
- The seller offers a program promising the buyer financial gains that exceed their the value of their initial purchase;
Individuals convicted of offering fraudulent business opportunities in the state of Florida could face the following punishments:
- Hefty fines based on the severity of the violation;
- Forced to pay damages, restitution, and the cost of attorney’s fees to the affected parties.
United States Regulation
The United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is responsible for the federal regulation designed to prevent business opportunity fraud. The FTC has a list of permissible ways to advertise for jobs and other money making ventures. Anyone who advertises these types of opportunities or services must include the following disclosures in their advertisements:
- Clearly identify themselves;
- State they are making an earnings claim;
- Detail their cancellation/refund policy;
- Provide a list of individuals who have purchased the opportunity within the last three years;
- Disclose if the company or its affiliates have been involved in legal actions.
In certain situations, the FTC may also require that advertisers provide additional documentation detailing the specifics of their agreement and refund policy. It is required that this documentation be offered at least seven days prior to the execution of the business venture. Failure to properly make any of these disclosures can result in accusations of business opportunity fraud.
Reach Out to Us for Legal Help
Due to the complex nature of this crime, law enforcement can be often misguided in the information they believe to be factual. Business ventures and agreements can often be intricate and confusing, causing law enforcement to misunderstand the terms of the an agreement and assume fraudulent activity. If you have been a accused of business opportunity fraud, an experienced attorney can be an invaluable asset in the preservation of your innocence. Do not let the fight for your freedom go to chance, contact the Baez Law Firm in Orlando or Miami today to ensure you are receiving effective and efficient defense.