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Owners of Automators AI money-making scheme settle with FTC

The Federal Trade Commission has announced that the owners of a money-making scheme that claimed to use artificial intelligence to boost earnings for consumers’ e-commerce storefronts have agreed to surrender millions in assets to settle the FTC’s case against them. In addition, all the businesses and two of their owners face a lifetime ban on selling business opportunities or coaching programs involving ecommerce stores.

In a case filed in August 2023, the FTC charged that Roman Cresto, John Cresto, and Andrew Chapman, along with multiple companies they controlled, including Automators AI, Empire Ecommerce, and Onyx Distribution, deceived consumers with unfounded promises of “passive investment income” in online storefronts supposedly powered by AI.

In its complaint, the FTC charged that the defendants offered consumers high returns from profitable e-stores. The defendants also offered to teach consumers how to successfully set up and manage e-stores on Amazon and Walmart themselves using a “proven system” and the powers of artificial intelligence. The FTC alleged, however, that the vast majority of the defendants’ clients did not make the promised earnings or even recoup their sizable investment. Instead, most lost significant amounts of money, and Amazon and Walmart routinely suspended, blocked, or terminated the stores that defendants operated for their clients for repeated policy violations.

The orders contain a total monetary judgment of $21,765,902.65, which is partially suspended based on the defendants’ inability to pay the full amount. If the defendants are found to have lied to the FTC about their financial status, the full judgment would be immediately payable.

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