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FTC charges get-rich-quick coaches targeting Amazon

The watchdog agency alleges a scam by two brothers, Adam and Christopher Bowser, running the workshops business FBA Stores.

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Amazon says it has "zero tolerance for fraud." 

Moment Editorial/Getty Images

The Federal Trade Commission said Friday it charged two brothers for alleged scam workshops to teach people how to make thousands of dollars selling goods on Amazon.

The FTC charges come a few months after Washington state's attorney general and Amazon filed civil suits against the brothers, Adam and Christopher Bowser, who live in Massachusetts. Like with the prior suits, the federal watchdog alleged the two were running a years-long scam using their business, FBA Stores. Jody Marshall, who is listed as a coach for the Bowsers' business, was also charged by the FTC.

According to the Washington state filing, the Bowser brothers were running an alleged scam since 2009. They drew in people by offering free webinars or in-person workshops on how to sell on Amazon and routinely used Amazon's logos in their signs and brochures, the suit said, though they had no affiliation with Amazon. At these events, they persuaded people to pay $1,000 for three-day workshops.

At the workshops, they allegedly used aggressive sales tactics to get people to register for more coaching or seminars, which cost from $4,000 for the "Wholesale" package, up to $35,000 for the "Diamond Coaching Package."

However, many of the tips the Bowsers offered violate Amazon's terms of service and could result in sellers getting banned, the state suit alleged. The FTC also claimed most, if not all, purchasers didn't earn the income the Bowsers advertised, which was to make $5,000 to $10,000 a month.

In December, Adam Bowser said he was disputing the Washington state complaint, saying the allegations were "flat out not true." He didn't immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.

"Amazon has zero tolerance for fraud," an Amazon spokesperson said Friday. "We take independent legal action against bad actors, in addition to working with consumer protection agencies and law enforcement to protect our customers and sellers."