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In the wake of higher gas prices, the Better Business Bureau has renewed it warning about a Sauk Centre company that sells a product it claims can use water to increase gas mileage..
Gertken Enterprises claims that by using its "water hybrid" product, namely its GMAX350 Hydrogen on Demand System," consumers can use less fuel. Its website boasts that "tens of thousands drivers are already utilizing this great technology." A disclaimer mentions that "tests and feedback" show the system has increased gas mileage by 25 percent and decreased emissions by 60 percent.
"Money/fuel-saving claims of this nature all have one thing in common: they are all too good to be true," said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of the BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota. The company failed to provide requested documents to substantiate its advertising claims, the BBB said.
Last year the Federal Trade Commission put out a warning about companies making gas-saving claims. Some products may damage a vehicle or actually increase exhaust emissions, the warning stated.
The company could not be reached for comment on Monday.
Almost a dozen companies that falsely claimed they could sell or rent out consumers' timeshare properties were ordered to stop doing business in Minnesota, the Minnesota Department of Commerce announced Wednesday.
"These sham companies are preying on people desperate to sell their timeshares with the intent to scam and defraud them out of thousands of dollars," said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman
In April, Whistleblower wrote about one of the companies, Platinum Resort Services, which claimed to be headquartered in downtown Minneapolis and had a phone number with a 612 area code. One of its listed addresses doesn't exist and the other is occupied by a different business. More than one consumer paid the company to either rent out or sell their property, but received no assistance in return.
All of the 11 companies named by the department used fake street addresses. One company went so far as to forge a Minnesota business registration and real estate license.
Last year, the department took action against Renaissance Marketing, which provided customers with a forged Minnesota real estate appraiser license.
The company offered to sell timeshares for a 10 percent fee and seven percent commission. The company claimed it already had buyers for the properties and the buyers were willing to pay an inflated price. Once the owner signed a contract the company threatened to prosecute the owner if he or she didn't immediately pay the fees. The company's website claimed it was "one of the largest Saint Paul property management company [sic] managing individual units through Saint Paul."
Other companies named by the department are Integrated Escrow Services, ABS Consulting Company, World Transfer Title, Premium Properties Management, Net Management Group, Concord International Title, Continental Property Solutions, Twin Cities Property Advisors, and World Event Management.
The department said all the companies operated in a manner similar to Global Properties Specialists.
If approached by someone offering to sell your property for you or rent it out, the state offers this advice. Verify that the company has a Minnesota real estate license. Research the company online. Beware of high pressure sales tactics and upfront fees.
Two people who posed as employees of major software-security companies and convinced consumers to pay hundreds of dollars to fix nonexistent computer viruses or other software problems, have agreed to cease operation and surrender their assets, according to the Federal Trade Commission Friday.
Mikael Marczak, doing business as Virtual PC Solutions, and Sanjay Agarwalla deceived consumers into believing their computers had been infected or had other problems and then pretended to remotely fix the problems.
Marczak, a Californian, and his business Conquest Audit was also found to have used telemarketing to sell debt relief services, in violation of federal law, the FTC said.
Agarwalla, of San Diego, must pay a $3,000 fine, the total amount he allegedly made from the scheme.
A judgment of $984,721 against Marczak and Conquest Audit, which represents the total amount consumers lost in the schemes, was entered, but is stayed "due to their inability to pay the full amount," the FTC said. Marczak and Conquest Audit will instead "surrender almost all of their existing assets."
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