Date Released: FTC-PR-240227-2

February 27, 2024


FTC-PR-240227-2 – FTC Action Leads to Ban for Owners of Automators AI E-Commerce Money-Making Scheme – Settlement requires scheme owners and operators to turn over millions in assets for refunds to consumers harmed by bogus earnings promises


The owners of a money-making scheme that claimed to use artificial intelligence to boost earnings for consumers’ e-commerce storefronts have agreed to surrender millions in assets to settle the FTC’s case against them. In addition, all the businesses and two of their owners face a lifetime ban on selling business opportunities or coaching programs involving e-commerce stores.

In a case filed in August 2023, the FTC charged that Roman Cresto, John Cresto, and Andrew Chapman along with multiple companies they controlled, including Automators AI, Empire Ecommerce, and Onyx Distribution, deceived consumers with unfounded promises of “passive investment income” in online storefronts supposedly powered by AI.

“The defendants lured consumers into investing millions in online stores supposedly powered by artificial intelligence and made empty promises that they could coach consumers into achieving success and profitability,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Today’s action holds the defendants accountable for this scheme by banning them from the coaching business, barring bogus claims, and requiring redress to defrauded consumers.”

In its complaint, the FTC charged that the defendants offered consumers high returns from profitable e-stores. The defendants also offered to teach consumers how to successfully set up and manage e-stores on Amazon and Walmart themselves using a “proven system” and the powers of artificial intelligence.

The FTC alleged, however, that the vast majority of the defendants’ clients did not make the promised earnings or even recoup their sizable investment. Instead, most lost significant amounts of money, and Amazon and Walmart routinely suspended, blocked, or terminated the stores that defendants operated for their clients for repeated policy violations.

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[Date Accessed: 3/6/2024]

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