Agora (Monument & Cathedral Holdings)
TINA.org investigated several Agora companies and found that they were marketing products using unsubstantiated disease-treatment claims, misleading financial representations, and dark patterns in violation of an FTC stipulated order.
(TINA.org had previously investigated Stansberry & Associates, a subsidiary of Agora, and found that it was using deceptive testimonials to sell its investment newsletters. To read more about that investigation, click here.)
- Sent warning letter to Stansberry & Associates
- Stansberry & Associates removed deceptive testimonials from publication
- Filed complaint with FTC against Agora companies
TINA.org files a complaint with the FTC against the Agora companies alleging that they are violating a February 2021 Stipulated Order by continuing to market products using unsubstantiated disease-treatment claims and misleading financial representations, as well as using dark patterns to induce their target audience – senior citizens and retirees – to purchase products they otherwise would not purchase.
A Stipulated Order is entered in federal district court against defendants, as well as parent company Monument & Cathedral Holdings (formerly known as Agora, Inc. and The Agora) that, among other things, bars them from making unsubstantiated health claims and misleading financial representations and requires them to pay more than $2 million.
The FTC sues five Agora entities (Agora Financial, NewMarket Health, NewMarket Publishing, Health Sense Media, and Health Sense Publishing), along with affiliates Dr. Richard Gerhauser and Zachary Scheidt, alleging they tricked seniors into purchasing publications using deceptive health and income representations.
TINA.org receives an update from Stansberry & Associates indicating that the company complied with TINA.org’s requests and will incorporate change and other improvements into its future promotions and testimonials.
TINA.org responds to Stansberry & Associates’ legal counsel by, among other things, providing a list of laws to which the company is bound.
Later, Stansberry & Associates completes the removal of the problematic testimonials from its website and marketing materials, and changes the disclaimer on its site to include a warning that investing money involves risk.
Stansberry & Associates requests, and TINA.org provides, a list of all the testimonials and webpages at issue. TINA.org also receives a letter from Porter Stansberry stating, among other things, that “it appears we may have made a few mistakes in the marketing materials on our websites,” and that he greatly appreciates TINA.org bringing this matter to his attention and providing him the opportunity to improve his business. TINA.org also receives a letter from the company’s legal counsel stating, among other things, that the company would “be making some changes to [its] marketing.”
TINA.org sends a warning letter to Frank Porter Stansberry, the founder of Stansberry & Associates Investment Research, LLC, alerting him to the issues uncovered by TINA.org’s investigation and requesting that the company remove from its website and promotional materials all deceptive testimonials, as well as clearly disclose on its website the risks associated with investing money. TINA.org requests action by March 18, 2014 with the plan of filing complaints with the SEC, FTC, and Maryland Attorney General if the deadline is not met.
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