Saturday July 4th, 2020 5:28AM

FTC halts 'misleading' real estate seminars with HGTV stars

By The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — A court has agreed to put a temporary stop to pricey real estate seminars fronted by HGTV stars after the Federal Trade Commission said promises that the classes could make people rich were "misleading" and "bogus."

In its complaint Friday, the FTC said that Utah-based Zurixx LLC would hold free real estate events endorsed by HGTV stars, including Tarek El Moussa and Christina Anstead of "Flip or Flop" fame. But at the events, attendees would be asked to pay for another three-day class that cost $1,997. And those who paid for those classes would be taught how to apply for new credit cards and increase the credit limits on existing cards. Then, according to the FTC, instructors would suggest using the credit to pay for additional training that cost more than $41,000.

When customers complained, the FTC said Zurixx would offer refunds, but only if customers signed an agreement barring them from writing negative reviews or speaking to regulators.

Zurixx said in a statement that it welcomes the scrutiny and anticipates "a positive outcome as we work directly and openly with the agencies involved."

HGTV did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In 2016, The Associated Press spoke to about a dozen people who took classes by Zurixx, saying that they were pushed to buy pricey classes, but learned very little about the real estate business.

In addition to halting the business, Zurixx's assets were frozen, which could potentially be used to refund customers. The FTC typically asks courts to halt businesses in order to investigate them further.

___

Follow Joseph Pisani on Twitter: @josephpisani

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