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April 15, 2009

Judge Bars Muscatine Company & Owners from Owning "Business Opportunities" Companies

Johnathan Ahlf & Kristen Lain, a.k.a. Kristen Ahlf, owners of Profit Alliance Inc. also ordered not to mislead consumers if marketing future business opportunities

(DES MOINES, Iowa)  A Muscatine County judge today permanently barred a Muscatine couple from owning any company that markets business opportunities.

In a consent judgment filed in Muscatine County District Court, District Judge Bobbi Alpers enjoined Profit Alliance Inc. and its owners, Johnathan Ahlf (also known as John Ahlf) and Kristen Ahlf (also known as Kristen Lain), all of Muscatine, from owning a business that markets business opportunities.  The judge also barred the defendants from misleading consumers in connection with the marketing of any business opportunity.

The consent judgment resolves a consumer fraud lawsuit filed last June by Attorney General Tom Miller [click here for June 30, 2008 news release].  Miller’s lawsuit alleged deceptive practices by Profit Alliance Inc., which engaged in nationwide sales of a business opportunity in which the purchaser was to provide tax and expense recovery services primarily to small business clients.

According to the lawsuit, the defendants used false and misleading information to motivate Profit Alliance customers to pay substantial sums for the business opportunity.  Once customers paid their fees, the lawsuit alleged, they typically found that the business did not operate as represented.  The result was that customers did not receive the promised support, and that customers’ income fell well short of what they were led to expect.

While the defendants agreed to the consent judgment, they denied wrongdoing or liability.  The defendants agreed to pay $2,000 to the state consumer education and litigation fund.

Tips on “business opportunities”

  • Research the background of the operation and the sellers of the “business opportunity.”
  • Check to see what information the seller is required by law to disclose, and review the disclosures carefully.
  • Check with the Consumer Protection Division and the Better Business Bureau for complaints against the operation and any related businesses.
  • Insist on a list of references, contact them, and make sure that they have no motivation to slant the truth.
  • Be especially wary if the seller is headquartered in another state, as that may compound the difficulties involved in seeking relief if problems arise.

Check the Federal Trade Commission website for much more information about business opportunity scams:  Click on “Jobs & Making Money.”


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