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Your weekly ScamWatch

January 16, 2011 |  6:01 am

A roundup of alleged cons and iffy deals.

Not easy being green -- The Federal Trade Commission said it had reached a settlement with Tested Green, a company that issued "green" environmental certifications to businesses for up to $550. According to the FTC, between February 2009 and April 2010, the company sold certifications that were "worthless," as Tested Green never examined the businesses. The FTC said that Tested Green also deceived customers by citing endorsements from the National Green Business Assn. and the National Assn. of Government Contractors –- which are both owned by Tested Green owner Jeremy Ryan Claeys.

Bank official guilty -- After a one-week federal trial in Riverside, former Chase Bank official Frank Mendoza of Victorville was found guilty of soliciting $25,000 in bribes from a Chase borrower. He promised to help a borrower handle a possible fraud investigation, which Mendoza helped initiate, according to the U.S. attorney’s office. Mendoza reported a suspected fraud to Chase, officials said, and several months later he asked the borrower for $25,000 in exchange for assistance. He faces a maximum penalty of 95 months in federal prison. He is to be sentenced in May.

Investor beware -- Federal authorities are charging an Encinitas man and two other parties with fraudulently soliciting $14 million from 30 investors in an alleged scheme involving the trade of commodities futures. From 2002 to 2010, Scott Bottolfson attracted investors with the promise of 20% returns without risk, the FTC said. Bottolfson is also being charged with misappropriating $11 million of the $14 million he’d been given -– largely for personal expenses and for paying other pool members as apparent profits. He is said to have lost nearly one-third of the $3 million that he did invest.

Disputed debits -- The Federal Trade Commission has settled a lawsuit against a New York-based Internet business that it said quietly made unauthorized debit and credit charges on consumers' accounts. The lawsuit alleged that Classic Closeouts and its chief executive, Daniel Greenberg, made charges of up to $79 on consumers' cards, years after they had bought "low cost" clothing and household goods from the website. Under the settlement, Greenberg is banned from owning or controlling any Internet-based retail business that uses credit and debit cards. He also must pay $2.1 million. 


Jan. 9: Gym memberships, for-profit colleges, insider trading

Jan. 2: Counterfeit drugs, child obesity, Apple malware

Dec. 26: Investment fraud, property loans, death and taxes

-- W.J. Hennigan