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FTC issues cease-and-desist order over Uncasville insurance company's earnings claims

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Montville — The Federal Trade Commission last month issued a cease-and-desist demand to Family First Life, a life insurance marketing company based in Uncasville, after reviewing social media posts and determining the company "is unlawfully misrepresenting that consumers who become Family First Life business opportunity participants are likely to earn substantial income."

The email is dated Dec. 27, but the FTC included this as part of a press release Wednesday rounding up letters sent to more than 20 companies, mostly regarding false claims about treatments and cures for COVID-19.

Family First Life doesn't sell its own insurance but partners with carriers, and is made up of independent agents across the country. President Shawn Meaike established the company in 2013.

The email to Meaike — from Lois C. Greisman, associate director in the Division of Marketing Practices — presented three examples from April, June and July, including two from TikTok and one from YouTube. One TikTok post said "Make your WEEKLY salary in ONE DAY as an Agent with Family First Life.... What was your biggest paycheck in a month? — Last month I checked on mine and it was like $40k in a month."

The FTC said representations about a business opportunity are considered false or misleading if participants "generally do not achieve such results. Even truthful testimonials from participants who do earn significant income or more will likely be misleading unless the advertising also makes clear the amount earned or lost by most participants."

The letter said Meaike is responsible for the claims of participants and representatives.

Greisman ended by asking Meaike to certify within 48 hours "that you and your participants and representatives have ceased making express and implied earnings claims that would be false or misleading to current or prospective participants."

FTC spokesperson Mitchell Katz said the commission doesn't comment on whether any companies have responded to or complied with letters, as that is nonpublic information, but confirmed the FTC hasn't announced any other actions against the company since Dec. 27. Meaike didn't respond to a voicemail or email Thursday.

In October and November, the commission had sent Family First Life a copy of its Notices of Penalty Offenses Concerning Money-Making Opportunities and Endorsements and Testimonials, said engaging in the conduct described could subject the company to civil penalties of up to $43,792 per violation, and requested the notices be distributed to subsidiaries.

The October letter said staff wasn't singling out the company, but was widely distributing notices to multilevel marketing companies, franchises, gig companies and others.

e.moser@theday.com

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