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Firm offering job search assistance shut down

October 20, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
A California company selling government job listings that were available for free on the Internet was shut down by the Federal Trade Commission, the agency announced on Wednesday.

Since at least 2007, Santa Barbara-based Frontier Publishing, doing business as American Data Group, placed ads in newspapers and on websites like CareerBuilder.com offering government jobs earning $12 to $48 per hour. When consumers called the toll-free number at the bottom of the ad, telemarketers charged $69 for access to information, applications and job listings, according to the complaint filed this month.

In their pitch, telemarketers claimed that the list of jobs wasn't available to the general public and that they also would provide sample questions and answers to exams used by the federal government in the hiring process.

After paying the fee, a packet was mailed out containing a one-page cover letter, a spreadsheet listing general information about jobs in the area and a 119-page booklet titled, "Federal Employment Resource Workbook." If a consumer called back for more help with the job search, the customer service department searched usajobs.gov and sent the search results back via e-mail, mail or fax, the commission stated in the complaint.

As part of the settlement, Frontier and its owner, William J. Clayton, agreed to pay $100,000 to the commission within 10 days of court approval of the proposed final judgment. If the company doesn't pay the fine in that time, it will be required to pay the total $7.5 million judgment levied by the commission. Because the financial information Frontier submitted to the commission didn't list enough assets to cover the entire judgment, the lesser sum was agreed to.

The agreement also prohibits the firm from "selling employment products" and "permanently prohibits them from misrepresenting any product or service, and from violating the FTC's Telemarketing Sales Rule," according to a commission statement.

Read more California investigative reports at CaliforniaWatch.com.

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