Alberta’s Jesse Willms accused of $450M internet fraud; he says practises ‘compliant with the law’

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is suing Albertan internet entrepreneur Jesse Willms over allegations that he used “deceptive business practices” to take nearly half a billion dollars from customers since 2007.

Quoth CBC NewsL

In a complaint filed in Seattle on May 16, the FTC alleges Jesse Willms, 24, used “risk-free” trial offers to get customers’ credit card numbers and then billed them each month for products like tooth whiteners and weight-loss products.

“People who thought they were going to pay $4.95 for shipping and handling, ended up with monthly charges of about $80 a month until they figured it out and got the charges stopped,” said Bob Schroeder, regional director of the FTC in Seattle. “Consumers were charged for things that they were not expecting, that they did not agree to. And then when they tried to cancel and get their money back, the defendants made it very difficult, if not impossible, for them to do that.”

Charges include failure to disclose charges to customers, using false endorsements by celebrities, misrepresentation, and misleading credit card companies. It will be requested that Jesse’s companies be disabled from functioning and issue refunds to customers.

Over on Jesse’s personal site, he typed up a blog stating that his business practises are “compliant with the law.”

Our companies give consumers the opportunity to buy a variety of products and services at significant savings. Our business is based on the loyalty and longevity of our customer relationships. This loyalty, in part, is earned through compliant business practices and disclosures that are both clear and conspicuous.

We take compliance very seriously, and have worked closely in that regard with our lawyers, including James Kaminski, a Washington, D.C. lawyer who previously served as an attorney for the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. 

This will be an interesting one to watch unravel.