FTC Follows Through with Netforce Sting
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An international fraud task force, charged with closing down Internet scams, won another victory Monday with Federal Trade Commission (FTC) commissioners levying a $229,000 fine against a notorious scam that claimed to treat terminally-ill cancer patients.
Earlier this year, Netforce -- a U.S./Canadian group created to shut down e-mail and Web site fraud -- filed 63 separate actions against individuals and groups purporting everything from instant riches to a cure for cancer.
David Walker was fined Monday after the five-commissioner board at the FTC unanimously voted his actions bilked thousands of dollars from people diagnosed with cancer or the family members of cancer victims.
According to the FTC, at his Web site, www.dlwconsulting.com (which is now shut down), Walker posted bogus "testimonials" from supposed success stories and charged consumers between $2,400 and $5,200 for the "CWAT Treatment: BioResonance Therapy and Molecular Enhancer" cure. A herbal therapy associated with the cure was determined to be "potentially harmful" to cancer patients, the FTC statement said.
As part of the settlement, which includes the fine, Walker is prohibited from making unsubstantiated claims on any food, drug or health-related service, though officials wouldn't say what would happen if he did so. While not a complete victory, since it doesn't completely halt the practice, Patricia Hensley, an FTC attorney, said the settlement is good for consumers.
"It's always good for consumers to put a stop to deceptive claims, particularly deceptive claims for a life-threatening disease like cancer," Hensley told internetnews.com. "We were happy with the settlement because that, at least in this case, the seller of a bogus cancer cure won't be doing this again."
According to the settlement filed with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington in Tacoma, Walker will need to submit regular statements with the court to ensure compliance. That involves periodic statements describing what line of business he is in, and whether it involves medical practices online or selling health-related products or services.
This is the second success for Netforce, which was created to shut down operations like the one conducted by Walker, an FTC spokesperson said. In April, the FTC settled with Sound City and Linda Simmons. The Web site maintained by the company rarely delivered the CD's it charged consumers for and failed to make prompt refunds.
The FTC regularly settles these actions outside of the court system, claiming settlements provide the fraud enforcement they are looking to provide.
"At the FTC, we settle a vast majority of our cases," Hensley said. "In this case, Mr. Walker agreed to a final judgment that gave us all the relief we needed, so there's really no need to go to trial. A settlement doesn't mean that we took it on the chin."