Commissioner of Securities and Insurance orders cease and desist on alleged pyramid scheme
Helena, Mont. – Montana Commissioner of Securities and Insurance, Monica J. Lindeen, today announced the issuance of a Cease and Desist Order and Notice of Proposed Agency Action against Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing, Inc. for allegedly operating a “pyramid scheme.”
The actions allege Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing (FHTM) recruited thousands of Montanans with deceptive claims that members could earn huge sums of money through the recruitment of new participants and through the sale of discounted services. Also named in the actions are Paul C. Orberson, President, Thomas A. Mills, Vice President and Chief Executive Officer, and Dianne Graber, Executive Sales Manager for the Company. Ms. Graber lives in Billings and allegedly promoted the program in Montana and recruited a substantial number of Montana participants.
“Pyramid schemes make a few individuals wealthy, by exploiting a large number of hard-working people with promise of income that can’t possibly materialize,” Commissioner Lindeen said. “Today, I decided to shut down Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing, Inc. and its representatives because I believe it is an illegal operation and it needs to end before more people lose money.”
The actions allege Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing is conducting an illegal pyramid scheme that benefits members only if they recruit new members to join the scam. The actions further allege FHTM lures new members by claiming it offers huge income opportunities through partnerships with large companies such as Dish Network, Travelocity, General Electric and The Home Depot. Representatives of Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing tell prospective new participants that not only do they receive compensation from the recruitment of others into the program, but also receive residual income through the selling of services from these large companies.
When contacted by the Commissioner’s Office, Dish Network, Travelocity, General Electric and The Home Depot all stated there were no “partnership” arrangements with Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing, Inc. and General Electric thanked the Commissioner’s Office “for bringing the inappropriate use of the GE trademark to our attention.”
According to Fortune Hi-Tech’s records, between the period July 2006 and June 2009, the Company has received at least $1,868,659 from at least 1,295 Montana participants. It appears Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing is actively recruiting new participants in the Billings, Bozeman, Butte, Helena, Great Falls, and Missoula areas.
Individuals and companies promoting a pyramid promotional scheme in Montana can be fined as much as $10,000 per violation. Individuals and participants who believe they have been bilked by Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing, Inc. should contact the Securities Division of the Office of the Commissioner of Securities and Insurance at (800) 332-6148.