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«UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT MIDDLE DISTRICT OF FLORIDA TAMPA DIVISION FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION, Plaintiff, v. Civ. No. NPB ADVERTISING, INC., a ...»

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Case 8:14-cv-01155-SDM-TGW Document 1 Filed 05/15/14 Page 1 of 22 PageID 1

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

MIDDLE DISTRICT OF FLORIDA

TAMPA DIVISION

FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION,

Plaintiff,

v. Civ. No.

NPB ADVERTISING, INC., a corporation, COMPLAINT FOR PERMANENT also d/b/a Pure Green Coffee; INJUNCTION AND OTHER NATIONWIDE VENTURES, LLC, a limited EQUITABLE RELIEF liability company;

OLYMPUS ADVERTISING, INC., a corporation;

JMD ADVERTISING, INC., a corporation;

SIGNATURE GROUP, LLC, a limited liability company;

NICHOLAS SCOTT CONGLETON,

individually and as an owner and managing member of NPB Advertising, Inc., Nationwide Ventures, LLC, Olympus Advertising, Inc., JMD Advertising, Inc., and Signature Group, LLC;

PAUL DANIEL PASCUAL, individually and as an owner and managing member of NPB Advertising, Inc., Nationwide Ventures, LLC, Olympus Advertising, Inc., JMD Advertising, Inc., and Signature Group, LLC; and BRYAN BENJAMIN WALSH, individually and as an owner, officer, and managing member of NPB Advertising, Inc., Olympus Advertising, Inc., and JMD Advertising, Inc., and as an owner and managing member of Nationwide Ventures, LLC, and Signature Group, LLC, Defendants.

Case 8:14-cv-01155-SDM-TGW Document 1 Filed 05/15/14 Page 2 of 22 PageID 2

Plaintiff, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”), for its Complaint alleges:

1. The FTC brings this action under Section 13(b) of the Federal Trade Commission Act (“FTC Act”), 15 U.S.C. § 53(b), to obtain permanent injunctive relief, rescission or reformation of contracts, restitution, the refund of monies paid, disgorgement of ill-gotten monies, and other equitable relief for Defendants’ acts or practices in violation of Sections 5(a) and 12 of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 45(a) and 52, in connection with the sale and marketing of Pure Green Coffee, a dietary supplement.

JURISDICTION AND VENUE

2. This Court has subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1337(a), and 1345, and 15 U.S.C. §§ 45(a) and 53(b).

3. Venue is proper in this district under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b) and (c), and 15 U.S.C.

§ 53(b).

PLAINTIFF

4. The FTC is an independent agency of the United States Government created by statute. 15 U.S.C. §§ 41-58. The FTC enforces Section 5(a) of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C.

§ 45(a), which prohibits unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce. The FTC also enforces Section 12 of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. § 52, which prohibits false advertisements for food, drugs, devices, services, or cosmetics in or affecting commerce.

5. The FTC is authorized to initiate federal district court proceedings, by its own attorneys, to enjoin violations of the FTC Act and to secure such equitable relief as may be appropriate in each case, including rescission or reformation of contracts, restitution, the refund of monies paid, and the disgorgement of ill-gotten monies. 15 U.S.C. § 53(b).

–  –  –

6. Defendant NPB Advertising, Inc., also doing business as Pure Green Coffee, is a Florida corporation with a place of business in the Middle District of Florida. NPB Advertising, Inc., transacts or has transacted business in this district and throughout the United States. At all times material to this Complaint, acting alone or in concert with others, NPB Advertising, Inc., has advertised, marketed, distributed, or sold Pure Green Coffee, a dietary supplement, to consumers throughout the United States. In that capacity, NPB Advertising, Inc., also has conducted business as Bungo Media, Quest Laboratories, GreenCoffee8884963810, and Nation Wide Ventures.

7. Defendant Nationwide Ventures, LLC, is a Wyoming limited liability company, with a registered address of 123 West First Street, Suite 675, Casper, Wyoming 82601, and a place of business in the Middle District of Florida. Nationwide Ventures, LLC, transacts or has transacted business in this district and throughout the United States. At all times material to this Complaint, acting alone or in concert with others, Nationwide Ventures, LLC, has advertised, marketed, distributed, or sold Pure Green Coffee to consumers throughout the United States. In that capacity, Nationwide Ventures, LLC, also has conducted business as Nation Wide Ventures, LLC, Pure Green Coffee, Bungo Media, and Quest Laboratories.

8. Defendant Olympus Advertising, Inc., is a Florida corporation with a place of business in the Middle District of Florida. Olympus Advertising, Inc., transacts or has transacted business in this district and throughout the United States. At all times material to this Complaint, acting alone or in concert with others, Olympus Advertising, Inc., has advertised, marketed, distributed, or sold Pure Green Coffee to consumers throughout the

–  –  –

United States. In that capacity, Olympus Advertising, Inc., has conducted business as egreencoffeeextract, truegreencoffeediet.com, and GRNCOFEXTRCT8887459754.





9. Defendant JMD Advertising, Inc., is a Florida corporation with a place of business in the Middle District of Florida. At all times material to this Complaint, acting alone or in concert with others, JMD Advertising, Inc., has advertised, marketed, distributed, or sold Pure Green Coffee to consumers throughout the United States. In that capacity, JMD Advertising, Inc., also has conducted business as EGreenCoffe8887397098 and E Green Coffee Diet.

10. Defendant Signature Group, LLC, is a Wyoming limited liability company with a registered address of 123 West First Street, Suite 675, Casper, Wyoming 82601, which address is identical to that of Nationwide Ventures, LLC, and with a place of business in the Middle District of Florida. Signature Group, LLC, transacts or has transacted business in this district and throughout the United States. At all times material to this Complaint, acting alone or in concert with others, Signature Group, LLC, has advertised, marketed, distributed, or sold Pure Green Coffee to consumers throughout the United States.

11. Defendant Nicholas Scott Congleton (“Congleton”) has a substantial ownership interest in and has played a leading management role in NPB Advertising, Inc.; Nationwide Ventures, LLC; Olympus Advertising, Inc.; JMD Advertising, Inc.; and Signature Group, LLC. At all times material to this Complaint, acting alone or in concert with others, he has formulated, directed, controlled, had the authority to control, or participated in the acts and practices of NPB Advertising, Inc.; Nationwide Ventures, LLC; Olympus Advertising, Inc.;

JMD Advertising, Inc.; and Signature Group, LLC, including the acts and practices set forth

–  –  –

in this Complaint. In connection with these activities, Defendant Congleton has used the aliases Mike Jackson, Nick Scott, and Bungo Media, and he has held himself out as president of Nationwide Ventures, LLC. Defendant Congleton, along with Defendant Paul Daniel Pascual, has had primary responsibility for advertising Pure Green Coffee. Congleton resides in this district and, in connection with the matters alleged herein, transacts or has transacted business in this district and throughout the United States.

12. Defendant Paul Daniel Pascual (“Pascual”) has a substantial ownership interest in and has played a leading management role in NPB Advertising, Inc.; Nationwide Ventures, LLC;

Olympus Advertising, Inc.; JMD Advertising, Inc.; and Signature Group, LLC. At all times material to this Complaint, acting alone or in concert with others, he has formulated, directed, controlled, had the authority to control, or participated in the acts and practices of NPB Advertising, Inc.; Nationwide Ventures, LLC; Olympus Advertising, Inc.; Signature Group, LLC; and JMD Advertising, Inc., including the acts and practices set forth in this Complaint.

In connection with these activities, Defendant Pascual has used the aliases Mike Jackson and Bungo Media and has held himself out as chief executive officer of Nationwide Ventures, LLC. Defendant Pascual, along with Defendant Congleton, has had primary responsibility for advertising and marketing Pure Green Coffee. Defendant Pascual resided in this district during much of the relevant time period, and, in connection with the matters alleged herein, transacts or has transacted business in this district and throughout the United States.

13. Defendant Bryan Benjamin Walsh (“Walsh”) has a substantial ownership interest in and has played a leading management role in NPB Advertising, Inc.; Nationwide Ventures, LLC; Olympus Advertising, Inc.; JMD Advertising, Inc.; and Signature Group, LLC.

–  –  –

Defendant Walsh also is president of NPB Advertising, Inc., and Olympus Advertising, Inc., and vice president of JMD Advertising, Inc. At all times material to this Complaint, acting alone or in concert with others, he has formulated, directed, controlled, had the authority to control, or participated in the acts and practices of NPB Advertising, Inc.; Nationwide Ventures, LLC; Olympus Advertising, Inc.; JMD Advertising, Inc.; and Signature Group, LLC, including the acts and practices set forth in this Complaint. In connection with these activities, Defendant Walsh has used the aliases Mike Jackson and Bungo Media. Defendant Walsh has had primary responsibility for the daily operations related to Pure Green Coffee sales and has responded to complaints from the Better Business Bureau. Defendant Walsh resides in this district and, in connection with the matters alleged herein, transacts or has transacted business in this district and throughout the United States.

14. Defendants NPB Advertising, Inc.; Nationwide Ventures, LLC; Olympus Advertising, Inc.; JMD Advertising, Inc.; and Signature Group, LLC, (collectively, “Corporate Defendants”) have operated as a common enterprise while engaging in the deceptive acts and practices alleged below. Defendants have conducted the business practices described below through an interrelated network of closely held companies that have substantially overlapping ownership, have officers and managers in common, and share employees, office locations, and payment processing and other business functions Because Corporate Defendants have operated as a common enterprise, each of them is jointly and severally liable for the acts and practices alleged below. Defendants Congleton, Pascual, and Walsh (“Individual Defendants”) have formulated, directed, controlled, had the authority to

–  –  –

15. At all times material to this Complaint, Defendants have maintained a substantial course of trade in or affecting commerce, as “commerce” is defined in Section 4 of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. § 44.

–  –  –

16. On or about April 26, 2012, Dr. Mehmet Oz proclaimed green coffee extract “the magic weight loss cure for every body type” on his nationally syndicated television talk show, The Dr. Oz Show. In the episode, Dr. Oz touted a “staggering, newly released study” in which subjects “lost an astounding amount of fat and weight – 17 pounds in 22 weeks – by doing absolutely nothing extra in their day.”

17. The episode included the following discussion of the purported benefits of green

coffee extract:

[ON-SCREEN depiction omitted][Dr. Oz speaking:] A staggering, newly released study reveals that the coffee bean, in its purest raw form, may hold the secret to weight loss that you’ve been waiting for. The study presented at a meeting of the world’s largest scientific society triggered unprecedented excitement for a weightloss study. It showed women and men who took green coffee extract lost an astounding amount of fat and weight, 17 pounds –

–  –  –

[Guest Dr. Lindsey Duncan speaking:]... So, and the medical community, the weight-loss community is all buzzing about this, and here’s why. The recent study that you were talking about earlier, they – the participants took the capsules and they did nothing else, they didn’t exercise, they didn’t change their diet. They actually consumed 2,400 calories a day. They burned only 400 calories. Now, that’s weight gain, not weight loss.

–  –  –

[Dr. Duncan:] Ten percent. They lost 16 percent of their total body fat, and they lost about 17 pounds per participant, and they had no side effects, zero side effects.

–  –  –

[Dr. Duncan:] Eight hundred milligrams twice a day, and you want to take it before meals, about 30 minutes before with a large glass of water.

(Tr. attached as Ex. 1; DVD of video attached as Ex. 2.) Dr. Oz did not recommend any specific brand of green coffee extract.

–  –  –

18. Within weeks of The Dr. Oz Show episode described above, Defendants began advertising and selling a dietary supplement that purports to contain green coffee bean extract and touting its effectiveness in causing weight loss. Defendants named their supplement “Pure Green Coffee.”

19. Starting on or about May 8, 2012, Defendants Congleton, Pascual, and Walsh, using the aliases of Mike Jackson and Bungo Media, began registering Internet domain names to sell Pure Green Coffee. Specifically, Defendants registered domain names including, but not limited to, buypuregreencoffee.com, buypuregreencoffee.net, buypuregreencoffee.org, buygreenweightloss.com, greencoffeeweightcontrol.com, coffeebeanstoloseweight.com, gogreenwithcoffeebean.com, questlabs.net, greencoffeesupport.com, buygreenweightloss.com, and igreencoffeebean.com (collectively, “Pure Green Coffee websites”).

20. Defendants have sold Pure Green Coffee for $48 a bottle, plus $4.95 shipping, for a one-month supply, with options to purchase three bottles for $98, or five bottles for $148.

Defendants have sold more than 536,000 bottles of Pure Green Coffee since May 2012.

Defendants Make Weight-Loss Claims Through Their Websites and Advertising.



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