A U.S. District Court judge this month issued a preliminary injunction against the sellers of a real estate investment training program that prohibits them from making false and unsubstantiated earnings claims about their program and from making false claims that their program coaches have substantial experience in the mortgage-note business and are readily available to assist consumers.

In August 2004, the FTC filed charges against Stefanchik and the Seattle, Wash.-based Beringer Corp., and Christensen and Atlas Marketing Inc., based in Salt Lake City, Utah. According to the FTC’s complaint, the defendants charged consumers as much as $5,000 to $8,000 for a program that purports to teach consumers how to make large amounts of money quickly by buying and selling mortgage paper. The defendants advertised and sold the program – which includes course materials, in-person seminars, videos, audiotapes, and other educational products and services – through direct mail, telemarketing and the Internet. The complaint charged that the defendants made false and unsubstantiated earnings claims and that they would provide consumers with the services of a personal coach experienced in mortgage paper transactions who would be readily available to assist them.

The preliminary injunction – which prohibits the challenged claims and requires reporting of the defendants’ financial transactions – will remain in effect pending the outcome of a trial on the FTC’s allegations.

At the time it filed its complaint, the FTC sought preliminary and permanent injunctive relief and consumer redress. The Jan. 3 preliminary injunction applies to John Stefanchik and the Beringer Corporation. Scott Christensen and Atlas Marketing earlier agreed to a preliminary injunction.

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