FTC sues Digital Altitude & Michael Force for over $14 million in fraud
If you’ve searched for an MLM company as part of your due-diligence, chances are you’ve come across a Digital Altitude spam blog.
The owners of these blogs shamelessly plagiarise MLM content from around the internet and present it as their own – combined with bait and switch advertising for Digital Altitude and related companies.
The worst offenders I’ve personally come across are Jesse Singh, Nicholas Pratt, Aaron & Shara Andrews, Rory Singh and likely a few other hacks I’m forgetting.
Plagiarizing content and bait and switch are scummy marketing practices that only a scummy MLM company would tolerate.
And Digital Altitude certainly fits the definition of a scummy company. BehindMLM reviewed Digital Altitude in 2016 and concluded it was nothing more than a chain-recruitment driven pyramid scheme.
Turns out the FTC agrees, following a complaint filed against Digital Altitude and creator Michael Force last month.
The January 29th FTC complaint accuses Digital Altitude, Aspire Processing, Aspire Ventures, Disc Enterprises, Rise Systems & Enterprises, Soar International Limited, The Upside and Thermography for Life (dba Living Exceptionally) as “fraudulent scheme(s) that prey on consumers”.
- Digital Altitude LLC is a Delaware company owned and operated by CEO Michael Force
- Digital Altitude Limited is a UK company also owned and operated by Michael Force, primarily used to open merchant accounts for credit card processing
- Aspire Processing LLC is a Nevada company managed by Mary Dee and Sean Brown (as an officer), primarily used to open merchant accounts for credit card processing
- Aspire Processing Limited is a UK company owned by Mary Dee with Alan Moore as an officer, it is used to advertising Digital Altitude memberships
- Aspire Ventures that shares the same details as Aspire Processing Limited
- Disc Enterprises is a Nevada company that appears to be run by Sean Brown, it is primarily used to open merchant accounts for credit card processing
- Rise Systems & Enterprise is a Utah company managed by Sean Brown, primarily used to open merchant accounts for credit card processing
- Rise Systems & Enterprise LLC is a Nevada company managed by Mary Dee and Morgan Johnson, primarily used to open merchant accounts for credit card processing
- Soar International Limited is a Utah company managed by Michael Force
- The Upside LLC is a California company managed by Mary Dee and primarily used to open merchant accounts for credit card processing
- Thermography for Life LLC (dba Living Exceptionally Inc.) is a Texas company, primarily used to pay Digital Altitude employees and affiliates
The FTC identifies most of the companies above as “alter egos” of Digital Altitude itself.
For the sake of simplicity I’ve grouped all of the above companies as just “Digital Altitude”.
Individuals named in the complaint include:
- Michael Force (right) as an officer/manager of Digital Altitude and Soar International
- Mary Dee as an officer/manager of Digital Altitude, Aspire Processing, RISE Systems & Enterprise, The Upside and Thermography for Life
- Morgan Johnson as an officer/manager of Digital Altitude, RISE Systems & Enterprise
- Alan Moore as an officer/manager of Digital Altitude and Aspire Processing
- Sean Brown as an officer/manager of Aspire Processing, Disc Enterprises and RISE Systems & Enterprise
All defendants in the complaint are accused of violating the FTC Act.
According to the FTC, Digital Altitude and its related companies solicit “steep fees for membership” on the promise of a significant income.
Since at least 2015, Digital Altitude have marketed and sold purported money-making opportunities to consumers throughout the United States and abroad.
Digital Altitude advertise their purported money-making program extensively through online webpages and social media platforms, including Facebook and Instagram.
Once consumers join, Defendants encourage them to add to the marketing effort by placing their own advertisements online, on social media platforms, and otherwise.
Digital Altitude make their own advertising copy, branded images, and other marketing materials available to consumers for this purpose, and direct consumers to use these materials in the consumers’ marketing efforts.
A substantial number of consumers have created marketing websites of their own, posted YouTube videos, and/or placed advertisements and marketing posts of their own on social media, all touting Digital Altitude’s program.
The main focus of Defendants’ advertisements—whether placed on a website, social media platform, or elsewhere, and whether placed by Digital Altitude directly or by consumers using Digital Altitude’s marketing materials—is a representation that consumers will quickly make substantial earnings with Digital Altitude’s program.
“Start and grow a profitable online business” and “make six figures online in the next ninety days or less” are two Digital Altitude marketing examples cited.
The FTC alleges Digital Altitude’s marketing claims are misleading, because in reality
the vast majority of consumers who pay Digital Altitude never earn substantial income, much less the claimed “six figures.”
Consumer losses as a result of Digital Altitude and its related companies scamming people are pegged at over $14 million dollars.
Digital Altitude’s “system” consists of little more than high-pressure sales tactics to get consumers to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars to Digital Altitude.
Most consumers make little or nothing, and do not even recoup their investment.
The fraud within Digital Altitude is voluminous and extends beyond the majority of participants being affiliates paid to recruit affiliates.
Specific examples cited by the FTC include:
- deceptive marketing claims
- Digital Altitude’s coaches and salespeople being one and the same
- the fraudulent representation that each of Digital Altitude’s coaches are six figure earners
- a “draconian and confusing refund policy that precludes most consumers from obtaining a refund once they realize they are not going to make money with Digital Altitude’s program”
If you thought the number of shell companies connected to Digital Altitude presented at the start of this article was dodgy, it’s because merchant processing providers have been giving Digital Altitude the boot.
Payment processors and banks terminated Digital Altitude’s merchant accounts at least ten times between July 2016 and January 2017 because of Digital Altitudes’ suspect business practices, including numerous disputes of payments they had made to Digital Altitude.
Some consumers sought chargebacks after Digital Altitude refused to give them a refund.
When the high chargeback rates led payment processors and banks to terminate Digital Altitude’s merchant accounts in the name of Digital Altitude, Digital Altitude embarked on further deception to continue to process credit and debit card charges for their sales.
Digital Altitude set up new corporations with different names (such as Corporate Defendants Aspire Processing and RISE Systems and Enterprise), opened new merchant accounts with these corporations, and began using the new merchant accounts to process consumers’ payments to Digital
Digital Altitude sometimes used the names of third parties, including individual defendants’ spouses, to open such accounts.
Digital Altitude and Michael Force also weren’t above flat-out lying to merchant account providers.
Digital Altitude also misrepresented Digital Altitude’s payment processing history, stating in one merchant account application that Digital Altitude had never had a merchant account terminated, even though payment processors and banks had previously terminated Digital Altitude merchant accounts at least eight times.
Underwriters for payment processors and banks (who decide whether a processor or bank should open an account for a merchant) may look at a payment processing applicant’s websites to learn about the applicant, including whether the applicant’s business practices might expose the processor to risk.
To evade this scrutiny, Defendants created “dummy” underwriting sites to show payment processors when they sought new merchant accounts.
Digital Altitude’s dummy underwriting sites differ significantly from the websites that actually generate Digital Altitude’s sales.
For example, these dummy sites do not include the earnings claims that Digital Altitude make on their sales-generating websites.
Furthermore, in an apparent effort to evade the banks’ and credit card companies’ fraud monitoring programs, Digital Altitude also misrepresented who owned Digital Altitude in their applications for merchant accounts.
They variously stated that Mary Dee owned 51%, 60%, and 90% of the entity, even though, according to Defendant Force’s sworn testimony, Mary Dee is not an owner of Digital Altitude at all.
As a result of screwing consumers out of over $14 million dollars, the FTC accuse Digital Altitude and the named defendants of
- misrepresentation regarding earnings and
- misrepresentations regarding goods and services provided
Consumers have suffered and will continue to suffer substantial injury as a result of Digital Altitude’s violations of the FTC Act.
In addition, Defendants have been unjustly enriched as a result of their unlawful acts or practices.
Absent injunctive relief by this Court, Digital Altitude are likely to continue to injure consumers, reap unjust enrichment, and harm the public interest.
Injunctive relief is being sought by the FTC by way of a temporary, preliminary injunction against Digital Altitude, an order freezing the company’s assets and the appointment of a Receiver.
A permanent injunction to stop Digital Altitude and Michael Force from committing future violations of the FTC Act is also requested.
Footnote: The FTC’s action against Digital Altitude was filed on January 29th under seal.
The court directed the case unsealed on February 7th, hence the delay in reporting.
Update February 9th, 2017 – On February 2nd the FTC was granted a TRO against Digital Altitude.
Among other things, the TRO order froze Digital Altitude assets (including those of all named defendants) and appointed a Receiver.
And who would have thought that TeamAaronShara would have been involved in anything remotely dodgy. I’m sure that TeamArronShara really didn’t know that [insert obvious ponzi scheme here] was not a real money making opportunity.
How can I get my money back from the company?
You’ll have a better idea after the prelim injunction hearing.
If the Receivership stands then you’ve got a bit of a wait while assets are marshaled. Then comes a victim claims process and eventually distribution.
That could be years off although maybe not, Digital Altitude isn’t as convoluted as some of the other busted scams Receivers have been appointed in.
Wished the FTC would have done the same to Empower Network, David Wood and David Sharpe.
I started Digital Altitude in June of 2017. I took advantage of the dollar trial like most.
I contacted the welcome coach like the system wanted me to do. Welcome coach up sold me on the RISE package for 2K.
Now he’s out of the picture and pass me over to the next coach that up sold me on the Peak plan which is over 20k with payment options promising me the dream of thirty thousand a month and his name was ASH Ali.
Mike pay these guys 20% of the leads you need to find leaving you with only 25% and he keep the rest. Then I found out the coaches put more effort and closing the Top Income earners.
They will all get what they deserve for scamming hard working people and most are to blind to admit that they got F<c* Too.
Ok. I was hoping this all worked out. now i’m out of money! How do I get that back?
Wait and see how the preliminary injunction hearing goes.
Boun – you can be like the rest of the fools and double down on all these crypto scams?
Better yet – just don’t fall for any of these opportunities and work hard. Keep your money in your pocket until you find something legit.
I bought their RISE “product” for $2,000 about a year ago thinking I was gonna learn how to grow an online business.
I started going through the “training” and realized it’s total fluff.
My “coach” was telling me I can make tons of money “reselling” these “products”.
But with advertising costs these days, it would only be worth it if I upgraded to the ASCEND level for $10,000 they told me.
Fuck that, I said.
People are out there struggling, desperate to make some extra to take the pressure off.
And you want me to spend another $10k to promote a system that forces people to spend at least $12k in before it’s even remotely possible for them to make anything back from promoting that same system?
Have these people got $12k spare lying around? No. They’re told:
“Stop thinking like a poor person and start thinking like an entrepreneur. Treat it like a business and it’ll pay you like a business. Use leverage. Take a loan.”
Hi ! I’m a DA affiliate Peak climber; oh, who am I kidding. I’m 45k in the hole. That’s really exciting. Makes me feel really successful; NOT.
My welcome coach was nice and he wasn’t pushy but my next coach Isaac; his wife Charity did his job and was mouthy.
The only reason I did this MLM was because I am handicap and wanted to try make an income. The only thing that was made was DA making a fool out of me and many other people.
Like many others have said; they told us to think success, live success, take challenges and success would surely follow.
As I followed the steps, purchased traffic, utilized free traffic, and used most of my time either on training webinars, calls, emails, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter; asking people to join made me feel very uncomfortable to say the least.
I had this gut wrenching feeling because I wasn’t making any money and knew it would probably be the same for them.
I am ever grateful for the FTC and those that are taking care of this matter. As much as I admired Michael Force as a US Marine; He has disgraced his country by this act. He is a disgrace to the whole USMC.
I have no respect for him or any of his cohorts. When you read this …. I’ll be waiting for my refund.
They basically stole over $3000 from me. Is there any suits going on that I should be aware of?
I feel like i was violated. I want my money back.
they really had me believing I could become a successful online entreprenuer if I only signed up for Rise and then Ascend. Now I’m 20K in debt, will I be able to get my money back?
I feel so betrayed and I’m stressed out about losing this money.
I invested months into nothing, I could have been doing something better with my life that would have actually gotten me somewhere!! I’m so disappointed, Please HELP!
Would anyone think we could get at least a fraction of the money back?
I never understood why someone would spend $20k-$50k for something that all you get is a username and password to a back office.
Why would you spend upwards of $50k for something that isn’t tangible? I would never under any circumstances give anyone that amount of money for nothing.
As far as refunds you should read some of the cases on the FTC website. Some of them took up to three years because that is how long it took to end the case ended.
Personally Responsibility People!
I don’t have any respect for Michael Force and this Digital Altitude thing but to see people saying they got “scammed” because they chose to keep pulling out the credit card and keep buying the up-sales is completely false.
The person who is unresponsible enough to keep buying more and more without getting results is just plain stupid.
Digital Altitude gives you a $1 trial, if you didn’t like it during that month, then just cancel. Don’t keep pulling out your credit card.
I think this lawsuit is a bunch of B.S. on the side of the FTC. The FTC and the FDA etc. protect the interests of the powers-that-shouldn’t-be. They don’t care about the people. They only care about snuffing out legitimate entrepreneurship and make people dependent on the gov’t instead of being able to become financially independent.
Plenty of good business get hurt directly or indirectly from this b.s. of the FTC.
People simply need to take personal responsibility for their own actions and choices. If you are dumb enough to just keep buying and buying just because the sales guy told you to, that’s your fault. Don’t scream “SCAM” because you lack personal responsibility.
All you do is give more unjust power to the powers-that-shouldn’t-be.
If people would say, “hmmm, I haven’t made any money yet, so I don’t see a reason to fork over even more money yet.” Then guess what? Digital Attitude would be out of business because nobody would be that dumb to keep buying and buying without seeing results.
Let the people and the Free Market reward or punish businesses naturally. Let ‘we the people’ decide what businesses to reward or to punish, not the unconstitutional gov’t who is holding the Free Market down by not letting legitimate business thrive.
And again I don’t personally have any respect for Michael Force and all these people listed above but at the same time I don’t respect the FTC and all their b.s. either.
Bottom line: If you kept buying stuff over and over without getting results, that’s your fault. Take personal responsibility for your actions.
Personal responsibity people!
You can’t run a blatant pyramid scheme and then complain when you get busted. People simply need to take personal responsibility for their actions.
If you’re dumb enough to just keep running an MLM pyramid scheme with no retail sales just because you’re making money, that’s your fault.
Don’t scream at your victims because you lack personal responsibility.
Oh, you’re one of those sovereign citizen nutjobs. *groan*
Yep, always funny how people like “Bill” think only the people who get conned out of their money should accept responsibility for their actions and eat their losses.
But scammers should just be allowed to keep scamming as long as they are able to find new marks.
Double standard much.
Faux libertarians such as “Bill” are always funny.
Got mugged ?? Your fault for choosing to be at a Place where muggers hang out.
Hit by a drunk driver ?? You guessed it. Whose decision was it to drive where there’s a possibility drunks could be on the road ???
Rape, random bashings, robbery at gunpoint ??
Not possible, according to the Bills of the world
Any update on the hearing …I need my money back. Big money I have still on the cards:( Jesse also a big scammer
Prelim injunction was granted. Victim claims and distribution are a long way off yet.
How do I get details on getting our money back?
Read this: https://behindmlm.com/companies/digital-altitude/digital-altitude-victims-should-not-expect-any-significant-recoveries/
I can only say I am sorry to hear you got enticed and duped into the DA scheme.
I too was intrigued by the hype of $1 in March 2017. I progressed through the training step by step, dedicating most evenings to it.
I had only 2 live chats with my Coach Scott, and although I was pressured into it, he kept going on about how amazing the opportunity would be to invest.
And when I got to and completed Aspire Step 6 Strategy Session; and there was a section that required me to tick & click into before I was permitted (yes Permitted) to be allowed into the Gold Room as I call it.
However, I accidentally pressed NEXT without ticking the box and TO MY SURPRISE I was taken to a NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) page to complete………………… that’s what rang alarm bells.
I went straight into my account page and deleted my credit card details.
I know I was lucky, but my heart goes out to all those that were duped or pressured into proceeding with this DA scam. I wish you every success in recouping all your money.
How do I get involved in the this class action suit? I want to make sure im in line to get my money back when distributions are made.
Are they taking names yet? Who do I contact to join the suit?
The Receiver has only just been appointed. You’re waiting on a claims process to be established which is a ways off yet.
Your best bet is following the Digital Altitude Receiver’s website. We’ll of course also do our best to keep readers updated.
Seems to be no update since March 12th on their site.
Receiverships take months/years to sort out. You’re in for a long wait.
Desperate people do desperate things! I’m 70 years old, with a husband who went through major health issues which seriously affected our financial picture. (We’re both retired professionals with Master’s Degrees.)
I searched far and long for something that would help us get back on sound financial footing and because I thought I admired Jesse, I joined Digital Altitude.
After spending over $4,000, I realized that the only goal of the coach was to up-sell.
I was told that I could mortgage the house, sell the house, get a bank loan, get more credit cards and it would all be worthwhile in the long run.
I then tried to get coaching from Jesse because I had no idea where to start.
Jesse wrote back, telling me that I needed to join the company before he could give me his training tools.
I replied that I had joined under him, and I never got ANY help from him either. At that point, I realized I’d been had.
Sure it’s my fault, but I’m a trusting person and honestly believed that Michael Force was someone to admire!
And the fact most normal people consider themselves to be generally “trusting” is what fraudsters like Force count on.
If he came on upfront like the scheming professional schemer he has always been, he’d never have been able to defraud people as he has done.
I basically invested $14,000 dollars based on unfulfilled promises and nothing to show for it.
Does anyone know how I can go about getting some money back?
Your best bet is getting in contact with the Digital Altitude Receiver.
Who is th DA receiver? I want my money back uugghh.
The Digital Altitude Receiver can be contacted via the Digital Altitude Receivership website.
I have my receipt as well as conversations about not getting paid ; with the 1$ 30 day guarantee . Who can I contact about that ?!
Nobody yet. When the time comes you’ll be able to file a claim with the Receiver.
Sorting through the mess a scam leaves behind takes a while.
Yes I to am another statistic with this scam. Got onto rise with the promise of having all this money going to come my way if I paid for traffic and just sent emails.
Most of what I got back was people to me f@#k off and not contact them again. I would love to get my money back but am not holding my breath.
I bought into this company back in February 2017. I was in hopes that I was going to be making alot of money in the first 90 days. I did not!
I paid the intial start up fee and a monthly fee. And then I advanced like most other people and sunk $3500 into this company with not making one penny.
I got upsold to APEX they told me I would have it all back within 6 months of using the system. I’m sitting on 70,000 in credit card debt.
These guys and people that were on leaderboards making those videos, landing pages, the webinars, are straight up liars and con artists, every one of them they should be locked up!
They need to go after the coaches and the top producers those guys were all in on the scam.
My heart and my financial situation hurts daily after I loss so much with this supposed opportunity.
I lost my job, my savings, my 401K because I believed in the dream that I could retire financially free.
Well, I will continue to pray for us all. I email the FTC receiver monthly to stay updated on this situation. God help us all for believing and being scammed as we were.
I didn’t want quick money, I wanted a real opportunity to earn money.
I don’t know what Michael Force, his family and all the other coaches and top producers are going through right now, but I ask God to help me forgive them daily for what they have done to so many people who are hurting worst now financially than they were before being introduced to Digital Altitude.
I also believed I could make money with their system.
I only lost 2000 usd that I paid to get into Rise.
I just hope that all who lost money with these people get their money back. I feel that I failed my husband and my family.
Anyway I hope we all get our money back.
Please find jesse singh, a former digital altitude who suck his customers for money and ran away from them..
He creates marketingxtreme… He has many different name website to scam people for money..
Don’t be fall in his trap to say he can help you to make money as he does. Don’t be stupid..
I am one of the unfortunate Victims of Digital Altitude marketing scan. I invested over $15,000.00 in the company with out a single dollar Return.
Kindly advise me when the compensation process begins.
FTC is handling what little recovery there is. We’ll try to keep on top of it.
look what I found THEY ARE BACK: digitalaltitude.co/podcasters-who-made-it-big/
they are at it again.
Who’s they? I see someone set up a spam blog, that’s it.
Domain was first registered in 2015.
Can you keep me updated on getting my money back?
I am a senior and got really duped!
Digital Altitude victims got screwed – https://behindmlm.com/companies/digital-altitude/digital-altitude-receivership-winding-up-victims-screwed/