A former beauty queen was part of an operation that allegedly duped half a million people into spending almost $30 million in a pair of fraudulent schemes, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
One scam lured people to pay for help in getting free government grants and another involved misleading claims about weight loss supplements, the FTC claims in a complaint.
Juliette Kimoto, 2006 Mrs. Nevada, owned four companies that offered a “bogus government grants service” and dietary supplements that made false claims about endorsements by Oprah Winfrey and scientific research, the FTC said on Monday. The FTC reached a settlement with Kimoto and another individual involved in the scheme. The settlement was first reported by Daily Finance.
Kimoto seemed to have a picture-perfect life. A mother of six, she had married her high school sweetheart who was named “Husband of the Year” in the same pageant where she won her title. She said she was actively involved in her Mormon church, according to the Las Vegas Sun.
Her husband, Kyle Kimoto is serving a federal prison sentence of 29 years, ordered by an Illinois federal judge in September 2008. His telemarketing scam, which is separate from the FTC’s claims about his wife, made over 12 million phone calls to consumers with weak credit histories to sign up for a bogus credit card. Authorities said he victimized over 300,000 people out of $43 million. He was ordered to pay restitution of about $35 million. The FTC said litigation is continuing against him.
His wife hatched her separate scheme while he was undergoing his criminal trial, according to the FTC.
According to memos from the FTC, consumer injury exceeded $29.7 million. The credit line scam impacted over 500,000 consumers and the grant scam victimized over 50,000 people.
As part of a settlement with the FTC, Juliette Kimoto is banned from selling grant-related products or services, credit-related products, or work-at-home business opportunities, and taking consumer payments by pre-authorized electronic funds transfer, among other activities.
The FTC is also banning Kimoto’s companies from making “misleading health claims” related to dietary supplements. She is also required to pay more than $90,000 and to turn over various personal assets worth over $220,000. Those assets include include “jewelry, a piano, and a 1967 Chevy Camaro, along with all the cash and other assets” owned by her companies.