The Federal Trade Commission filed a complaint and obtained a temporary restraining order against a company holding real estate house flipping seminars featuring endorsements by television stars Tarek and Christina of HGTV’s “Flip or Flop,” and other celebrities.
The FTC explained it is limited in what it can say since the case is in litigation, but in court papers it accuses the company of making bogus claims and misleading conduct.
The agency says for six years, house flipping seminars like one in East Hartford in 2017 have been held by Utah-based Zurixx LLC and its affiliated companies.
One of the apparent ways of getting people there, a belief by at least some that they might get to meet house flipping celebrities like Tarek and Christina, whose images were on the event’s posters and handouts
The company took steps to notify people that Tarek el Moussa and Christina Anstead might not attend, using precise wording some recognized, but might not be clear to all fans. But that was not what the FTC complaint is about.
Rather, the FTC said the initial, free event “…used the promise of easy money and in-depth information to lure consumers down a path that could cost them thousands of dollars and put them in serious debt.”
The FTC added Zurixx presenters did this by telling people at the free event to pay $2,000 to attend a three-day workshop on making substantial income from real estate.
Once at that workshop, the FTC alleged Zurixx presenters would try to upsell participants additional products and services that could cost more than $41,000.
Zurixx didn’t respond to our request for comment but in a statement, told the Associated Press it welcomes the scrutiny and anticipates “a positive outcome as we work directly and openly with the agencies involved.”
Zurixx presenters were also accused of telling workshop attendees to use their own credit cards to finance the real estate deals.
The FTC said the company encouraged people to lie about their income to get their borrowing limit raised.
The FTC also said Zurixx allegedly required some consumers who were unhappy with the house flipping program to sign an agreement barring them from talking with agencies that might investigate the company, in order to get a refund.
The FTC complaint noted that Zurixx has conducted business under multiple fictitious business names, like “Success Path.”
That was the name of the company NBC Connecticut Investigates communicated with for the first story on this two years ago.
Tarek and Christina are not named as defendants in the current complaint.
Their publicists did not respond to our requests for comment.
The real estate seminars are not in any way affiliated with HGTV, or Scripps Networks, which broadcast Tarek and Christina’s house flipping program.