FTC sues Bob Shafer, Samuel Smith & Charles Garis for fraud
Two former promoter of the 8 Figure Dream Lifestyle pyramid scheme have been sued by the FTC.
A Complaint filed by the FTC on December 8th, 2023, names three defendants:
- Bob Shafer, aka Robert William Shafer, Coach Bob, Bo Hall, Bo Small, Bo Rich and Beau Rich, a resident of New York;
- Samuel James Smith, a resident of Idaho; and
- Charles Joseph Garis Jr., aka Joe Gaines, a resident of Pennsylvania
The FTC has accused Shafer, Smith and Garis of violating the FTC Act and Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR).
As per the FTC’s lawsuit, filed on December 8th, 2023, Shafer, a resident of New York, and Smith, a resident of Idaho, operated
a sprawling business opportunity scheme that has taken in millions of dollars from consumers with bogus promises of huge returns.
BehindMLM came across Shafer’s pyramid scheme in 2022. Marketing was vague and there was no specific company name marketed.
In addition to his own scam, Shafer also promoted other scams.
8 Figure Dream Lifestyle was a gifting scheme that relied on pyramid recruitment to stay afloat.
The FTC sued 8 Figure Dream Lifestyle for telemarketing fraud in 2019. The case was settled for $31.9 million in 2020.
Shafer and Smith weren’t defendants in the 8 Figure Dream Lifestyle lawsuit, but the FTC does acknowledge their role within the scheme.
Defendant Shafer participated in a money-making scheme known as 8 Figure Dream Lifestyle (“8FDL”), which caused more than $31 million in harm to consumers.
Defendant Shafer took at least $68,000 in membership fees from consumers as an 8FDL seller.
Defendant Garis, like Defendant Shafer, also participated in the 8FDL money-making scheme.
Defendant Garis took at least $424,000 in membership fees from consumers as an 8FDL seller.
Shafer’s, Smith’s and Garis Jr.’s scheme went by a few names, one of which was Blueprint to Wealth.
The alleged scam operated in much the same manner 8 Figure Dream Lifestyle did; pseudo-compliance garbage was bundled with membership fees, and recruitment of new victims the only way to make money.
With membership, consumers purportedly gain two ways to earn money.
First, they gain the right to receive commissions from the sale of memberships in the same moneymaking scheme that they have just paid Defendants thousands of dollars to join.
Second, they obtain a license to resell e-learning materials on personal and business development (“Digital Products”) from the scheme’s so called “e-learning library.”
Some or all of these Digital Products come with the purchase of a membership, and Defendants characterize them as valuable and in demand.
No viable market exists for their purportedly valuable Digital Products. The products are merely incidental to membership.
Blueprint to Wealth membership cost between $3000 to $21,000.
Although Shafer and Smith marketed their scheme as a “done for you” money machine, in reality
They (paid) few consumers any commissions, let alone the thousands of dollars in monthly commissions they portray as typical in their marketing.
None of this is surprising given Shafer’s and Garis Jr.’s prior involve in 8 Figure Dream Lifestyle. Garis was also previously sued for TSR violations in 2012.
Garis Jr. was fined $1 million and had an injunction entered against him, prohibiting further TSR violations.
With respect to the FTC Act, the FTC alleges BluePrint to Wealth violated the Act through deception.
Once consumers become Blueprint to Wealth members, few make money, let alone recover their investments or see the steady stream of income that Defendants’ marketing portrays as a corollary of membership.
The TSR comes into play by use of telemarketing to lure new victims into the scheme.
Defendants have built and use sales funnels designed to entice and lead consumers to pay thousands of dollars for Blueprint to Wealth memberships.
Defendants call those who market and sell the Blueprint to Wealth money-making scheme via telemarketing and other means “Success Coaches.”
Blueprint to Wealth Success Coaches are purportedly topflight marketers and earners in the scheme.
Defendants rely on inbound and outbound telemarketing, YouTube ads, internet advertisements, websites, and other means to market and sell Blueprint to Wealth through the dissemination of false or unsubstantiated earnings claims.
Blueprint to Wealth’s telemarketing efforts specifically target elderly victims.
Their marketing has emphasized Blueprint to Wealth’s purported value to those looking to make money for retirement or earn money in retirement.
On one telephone sales call, Defendant Garis urged a septuagenarian consumer to purchase at the highest Blueprint to Wealth membership level so that she could “get out of debt quicker” and begin making a profit.
Defendant Garis made this recommendation while knowing that the consumer was a retiree in need of extra money.
Alternative company names used as part of these marketing efforts included Retire Wealth Network, Income to Retire System and Retire Wealth System.
Since 2020, Blueprint to Wealth’s telemarketing efforts have attracted over 230 complaints from consumers.
Specific alleged violations of the FTC Act and TSR include:
- misrepresentations regarding earnings
- means and instrumentalities
- false or misleading statements to induce persons to pay for goods or services
- misrepresentations regarding material aspects of an investment opportunity and
- unlawful prerecorded messages
In asking the court for an injunction against Shafer, Smith and Garis Jr., the FTC argues;
Consumers are suffering, have suffered, and will continue to suffer substantial injury as a result of Defendants’ violations of the FTC Act and the TSR.
Absent injunctive relief by this Court, Defendants are likely to continue to injure consumers and harm the public interest.
The FTC case was filed under seal on December 8th, 2023. Based on evidence filed with the FTC’s Complaint, the court granted an ex-parte TRO and asset-freeze later the same day.
As of December 13th, Shafer, Smith and Garis Jr. had all been served. The case was subsequently unsealed on December 15th.
Presently, the TRO is in effect till January 31st, 2024. On the same date a preliminary injunction hearing has been scheduled.
I’ve added the FTC’s Blueprint to Wealth case to BehindMLM’s calendar. Stay tuned for updates as we continue to track the case.