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Federal court freezes assets for ‘work-at-home’ Internet firms for lying to customers

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(Reuters) – A U.S. district court in Utah has frozen the assets of several Internet business coaches accused of lying to customers about their potential earnings after signing up for the services, the Federal Trade Commission said on Monday.

The companies are Essent Media LLC, Net Training LLC, YES International, Coaching Department, and Apply Knowledge, the FTC said in a statement. The commission, which voted 4-0 to sue the Utah-based defendants, filed a lawsuit against them this month.

“This case halts a massive scam that bilked consumers out of millions for useless work-at-home kits and business coaching services,” said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “The defendants duped consumers into thinking they could earn thousands working from home.”

Jonathan Hafen, the lead attorney for the defendants, had no comment on Monday.

The commission said the companies lured customers by offering a “proven and guaranteed home job to make $379 a day from home.” But consumers earned little or no money and ended up heavily in debt, the FTC said.

The legal action came days before a deadline for the FTC and the Securities and Exchange Commission to respond to a request for an investigation on Herbalife by U.S. Senator Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat.

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The nutrition and weight loss company faces accusations from several of Markey’s constituents, some civil rights groups and billionaire investor William Ackman that some Herbalife distributors promised business coaching to get rich quickly.

Herbalife has said it told distributors that their results depend on time, energy and dedication.

The two regulators have until the end of the month to respond to Markey’s request.

(Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss in Boston; Editing by Amanda Kwan)

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Trump betting he can win re-election by feeding new conspiracy theories to explain investigations: report

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Special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into President Donald Trump's association with Russian efforts to undermine the 2016 presidential election may be over. But that does not mean the president is free from oversight.

According to Politico, Trump is still facing 15 civil and criminal probes by at least nine federal, state, and municipal agencies on everything from obstruction of justice to campaign finance violations to using his office to enrich his family and businesses. But president is not bothered by these investigations — or at least, he believes that he can use them to his political advantage.

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Meet the mysterious conservative lawyer who keeps turning up in the Russia probes

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A prominent conservative lawyer keeps showing up in dramas central to the Trump administration and its battles with Congress—and it turns out he has intimate knowledge of Felix Sater’s intelligence work for the U.S. government while he was working with Trump.

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House Democrats have a new list of ‘star witnesses’ who are beyond Trump’s reach: report

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According to a report from Politico, House leaders have developed a new plan to get what are called "star witnesses" to appear in public hearings who are outside of Donald Trump's ability to block them from speaking by asserting executive privilege.

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