Laws are finally catching up with the blink-and-you-missed-it online business world. Until recently, few statues existed that directly addressed online transactions. But nowadays, politicians are chomping at the bit to tamp out online fraud. Both the FTC and FCC have amped up investigations, and jurisdictions across the country are passing a variety of online laws that will have a long-lasting impact on the affiliate marketing industry.
Authorities are especially anxious to nab deceptive online marketers. And officials think there’s enough evidence to prove that high-profile iWorks founder, Jeremy David Johnson, is one such offender.
Man Accused Of Online Fraud Was Ostensibly A Man of the People
By all outward appearances, Jeremy David Johnson is a model citizen. When the earthquake hit Haiti, the successful business man didn’t waste time buying a plane to transport much-needed supplies to the suffering Caribbean country. And when local law enforcement agencies needed some extra man-power for search and rescue missions, Johnson always offered-up his air-craft, free of charge.
A staple on the charity and campaign-funding circuits, Johnson has donated hundreds of thousands over the years, including a $50,000 dollar contribution to Utah’s current Attorney General.
In his public life, there’s no denying that Jeremy David Johnson made all the right moves. But since 2001, hushed, back-room rumors have cast a shadow over the outwardly philanthropic entrepreneur.
Early Online Fraud Legal Tangles
Ten years ago, Johnson was implicated in a stock scandal; however, thanks to the settlement terms, implicated parties did not have to admit wrongdoing. Between 2006 and 2007, Johnson’s company was censured by the Utah division of consumer protection for engaging in fraudulent marketing practices. All claims were dismissed, though, when Johnson’s company swore to change their advertising methods and refund dissatisfied clients.
Last December the FTC filed a comprehensive complaint in Las Vegas against Johnson. And last week, he was arrested at the Phoenix airport. Johnson was on his way to one of his auxiliary homes in Costa Rica.
Authorities plan to prove that iWorks, under the direction of Johnson, has been systematically bilking millions from unsuspecting consumers and merchant banks. The state claims the company offered risk-free product trials, but billed for them anyway.
If Johnson is found guilty, he faces a 20-year prison sentence. Based on information uncovered in the FTC’s voluminous iWorks documents, Utah Assistant Attorney General, Brent Ward, has also announced plans to file more charges.
At the time of this writing, Johnson is being held in the Davis County jail. Ward affirms Johnson is a flight risk and financial threat to the community; so the attorney is requesting the CEO be held without bail.
Due to the FTC investigation, Johnson’s assets have been frozen and his passport confiscated.
Jeremy David Johnson is being represented by two law firms. Travis Marker is handling the FTC investigation, and Nathan Crane, the Utah lawsuit. Both defense teams are quick to highlight Johnson’s cooperation with government officials. Marker and Crane also point to Johnson’s Utah family roots as a reason for staying put.
Team Johnson’s party line is simple: iWorks did nothing wrong and we plan to prove this in court.
One thing is certain, both sides are keeping their cards close to their chests until proceedings get underway. So stay tuned. This online fraud case is sure to be intriguing.