Canadian newspapers are reporting that a Seattle judge has frozen Willms’s American assets. And that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission is working with Canadian authorities on Willms’s assets there. According to the FTC, a final order in the case could mean money back for consumers.
Willms and his 10 internet companies are accused of cheating people in Canada, the U.S., Australia, the U.K., and New Zealand by advertising products like acai berry supplements, colon cleansers and teeth whiteners as free trial offers or risk-free, then billing customers’ credit cards monthly. Additional products were sent automatically unless the customers navigated a complicated cancellation process.
Media reports say that Willms has blamed his troubles on unscrupulous business associates who he claims defrauded him by stealing credit card numbers in order to generate commissions with bogus sales. He is scheduled for trial in the U.S. in July 2012.
Willms and his companies, including Wu-Yi Source and a penny auction site, first came to the attention of the BBB Serving Eastern Washington, North Idaho and Montana when we began receiving a series of complaints sent to a drop-box in Montana.
Since 2008, BBBs in Canada, Los Angeles, and Spokane have received over 4,000 complaints about companies run by Jesse Willms.
To avoid being lured by trial offers, it is a good idea to do the following:
- Make it a Habit to Read Your Credit Card Statements. Find out right away if you’re being billed for something you never agreed to.
- Read the Fine Print. The terms and conditions should tell you exactly what you’re paying for, how much it costs, what the return policy is and what the cancellation policy is.
- Start With Trust. Research the company on www.bbb.org or other trusted sites to see what customers have to say about the company, its products, and its customer service.
View the entire FTC action here.