A woman who "assisted and facilitated a scheme" that promised a "guaranteed $25,000 grant from the federal government," lost an appeal of a ruling that ordered her to repay $1,682,950 to victims, the Federal Trade Commission said.
In 2011, the FTC and the states of Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota and North Carolina sued Meggie Chapman in a Kansas district court.
A May 2013 appeals court decision announced Thursday found that Chapman, doing business as Meggie Chapman & Associates, violated the FTC's Telemarketing Sales Rule by deceiving consumers and "provided substantial assistance" to fellow schemers Wealth Power Systems, LLC and Aria Financial LLC.
The scheme worked this way:
Consumers were sent postcards stating the availability of government grants.
Those who called the toll-free number were offered a book for $69 called the "Professional Grant Writer," which Chapman and others wrote. The book, postcards and a recorded message contained misrepresentations about the likelihood of receiving a grant.
Next, the schemers offered grant-research services to those who called. The "services" cost between $800 and $1,100 and consisted of a printed list of potential funding sources. Many of the names on the list did not exist, didn't offer grants, didn't offer them to individuals or asked to be taken off the list.
Finally, the businesses offered grant-writing and grant-coaching services to the consumers.