Court to scammer: Give up your house or go to jail

“Asset protection services” scammer in contempt

Too many online scammers get away with what amounts to a wrist slap but a case if Las Vegas this week seems to be heading the right direction at least.   

According to the Federal Trade Commission, a business opportunity scammer has been held in contempt for the second time by a federal court and ordered to turn over the title of his home in Las Vegas or face jail time. 

The court found that the operator of the scam, Richard Neiswonger, failed to deliver marketable title to his home, in violation of a previous court order entering a $3.2 million judgment against him, the FTC stated. The FTC charged that the defendant deceived consumers with false promises that they could make a six-figure income by selling his "asset protection services" to those seeking to hide their assets from potential lawsuits or creditors. 

The current contempt order, filed in US district court last week, requires Neiswonger to take specific steps to transfer of his home to a court-appointed person by today, September 22, 2009, or face imprisonment. 

In April 2007, the FTC said the same court held Neiswonger, his business partner William  Reed, and their firm, Asset Protection Group, in civil contempt for violating the terms of a 1997 court order prohibiting them from deceptively promoting any "program" and from failing to disclose material facts to consumers. The court's 2007 order banned Neiswonger from telemarketing and from selling any business opportunity program to consumers. 

The court subsequently entered $3.2 million judgment against Neiswonger - the amount of his ill-gotten gains - and required him to transfer the title of his Las Vegas home to a court-appointed receiver within 20 days if he failed to pay the judgment in full, the FTC said. 

Despite Neiswonger's arguments that he had done everything he could to transfer the title, the court disagreed, leading to the contempt order announced today, the FTC stated.  If Neiswonger fails to comply with the current contempt order, he could be imprisoned until he complies fully. 

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