The operators of an alleged grant scam called Grant Bae that targeted minority-owned businesses will face a permanent ban from grant-writing and business consulting services as a result of a lawsuit brought against them by the Federal Trade Commission and the State of Florida.
“These fraudsters preyed on minority-owned businesses that were trying to survive the pandemic,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Our proposed orders will ensure these scammers get out and stay out of the grant writing and business consulting fields.”
In their complaint against Grant Bae, the FTC and Florida alleged that Grant Bae and its owner, Treashonna P. Graham, scammed businesses out of money, sometimes thousands of dollars each, with false promises of “guaranteed” grant funding and COVID-19 economic benefits that did not materialize.
The defendants in the case—Graham and her company C Lee Enterprises, LLC—have agreed to the terms of a proposed court order that would require them to:
- Stop grant-related services and business consulting: The order would permanently ban the defendants from providing any products or services related to either grants or business consulting.
- Stop deceiving consumers: The order would prohibit defendants from making any misleading statements in connection with any product or service they are selling.
- Turn over property: The order would require the defendants to turn over a home, a car and a watch to the court-appointed receiver in the case and would order the receiver to sell those items to raise money that would be used to provide refunds to businesses harmed by the Grant Bae scheme.
The order against Graham and C Lee Enterprises includes a monetary judgment of more than $2 million, which is partially suspended due to an inability to pay. An additional settlement with one relief defendant contains a monetary settlement of $115,000, which is fully suspended due to an inability to pay. If any of the defendants are found to have lied about their financial status, the full monetary judgments will be immediately due.
The Commission vote approving the stipulated final order was 4-0. The FTC and Florida filed the proposed orders in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.
NOTE: Stipulated final orders or injunctions have the force of law when approved and signed by the District Court judge.