FTC halts ‘mis­lead­ing’ real es­tate sem­i­nars with HGTV stars

Antelope Valley Press (Sunday) - - Business - By JOSEPH PISANI AP Re­tail Writer

NEW YORK — A court has agreed to put a tem­po­rary stop to pricey real es­tate sem­i­nars fronted by HGTV stars af­ter the Fed­eral Trade Com­mis­sion said prom­ises that the classes could make peo­ple rich were “mis­lead­ing” and “bo­gus.”

In its com­plaint Fri­day, the FTC said that Utah-based Zurixx LLC would hold free real es­tate events en­dorsed by HGTV stars, in­clud­ing Tarek El Moussa and Christina An­stead of “Flip or Flop” fame. But at the events, at­ten­dees would be asked to pay for an­other three-day class that cost $1,997. And those who paid for those classes would be taught how to ap­ply for new credit cards and in­crease the credit lim­its on ex­ist­ing cards. Then, ac­cord­ing to the FTC, in­struc­tors would sug­gest us­ing the credit to pay for ad­di­tional train­ing that cost more than $41,000.

When cus­tomers com­plained, the FTC said Zurixx would of­fer re­funds, but only if cus­tomers signed an agree­ment bar­ring them from writ­ing neg­a­tive re­views or speak­ing to reg­u­la­tors.

Zurixx said in a state­ment that it wel­comes the scru­tiny and an­tic­i­pates “a pos­i­tive out­come as we work di­rectly and openly with the agen­cies in­volved.”

HGTV did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment.

In 2016, The As­so­ci­ated Press spoke to about a dozen peo­ple who took classes by Zurixx, say­ing that they were pushed to buy pricey classes, but learned very lit­tle about the real es­tate busi­ness.

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