Over the past year, there have been many new efforts to support Black-owned businesses, but some say a Prosper couple took advantage of that.
The Federal Trade Commission and the states of Arkansas and Texas are suing LaShonda and Marlon Moore, accusing them of operating an illegal pyramid scheme.
According to the complaint filed last week by the Texas Attorney General, the Moores operated, "an illegal pyramid scheme 'Blessings in No Time' (aka BINT) to scam tens of millions of dollars from members of the African-American community."
Since January, the complaint said the state has received nearly 200 consumer complaints about the Moores and BINT Operations, LLC alleging over $700,000 in losses.
Yolanda Robertson, from Georgia, is one of them.
“I wouldn't think that our people would do us like this at a time of a pandemic. We were already hurting. We were already suffering. I had been unemployed,” Robertson said.
The Moore’s appeared in a Collin County courtroom Tuesday for a temporary injunction hearing.
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More than a half-dozen alleged victims, including Robertson, testified at the hearing.
"I felt kind of sorry for them," Robertson said.
Robertson said she initially contributed $1,400 to BINT, was promised an eight-fold return, and said she bought in because of a money-back guarantee.
“It made sense because my friend who brought me in received $11,400 so I said, ‘OK, she received it. I should receive it if I invest in it and if not, I'll get my money back,” Robertson said.
From Alabama, grandmother and retired teacher Rosetta Fleming told us a similar story.
“They promised that they would give you a refund if you were not satisfied,” Fleming said. “They wanted to say it’s to build the Black community is what they wanted to say.”
Both Robertson and Fleming said they logged into numerous Zoom calls hosted by the Moores who also appeared on a reality TV show last year on OWN -- the Oprah Winfrey Network.
But months after becoming BINT members, Robertson and Fleming said they requested refunds and both are still waiting.
“I advised them my home is about to be foreclosed on, can I get at least $1,400 of my $5,650 back, and still it fell on deaf ears,” Robertson said.
At Tuesday’s hearing, the couple's attorneys Michael Todd and Nicholas Norris argued the Moores should not have their assets frozen because money was never paid directly to the Moores or BINT.
“I think the truth will come to light,” Marlon Moore told NBC 5 as he entered the courthouse.
An asset freeze remains in effect.
The complaint filed by the FTC in conjunction with the state of Arkansas alleges there are thousands of BINT victims nationwide.