Laws & Litigation

FTC CHARGES FIRMS WITH GEM SCAM

The Federal Trade Commission in November requested and received a temporary court order halting what it called misrepresentative telemarketing of gemstones as investments by Florida residents Thomas E. O’Day and Jeffrey L. Kelley.

O’Day operates Thomas E. O’Day Co. in Orlando. Kelley, his associate, also operates under the name Jeff Barnett. The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida in Orlando froze both men’s assets and requested additional financial records from both.

The FTC alleges that since at least 1992, the men have contacted consumers and offered to broker sales of their gemstones for a single fee plus a commission. Consumers allege that in many cases Kelley and O’Day found no buyers for the stones, often coerced them to buy more to “round out” their collections and/or left them with additional overpriced gemstones.

Kelley’s attorney, Richard Rhodes of Orlando, said his client had no comment on the charges. A telephone number for Tom O’Day was disconnected, and his attorney was unavailable for comment at press time.

The FTC is seeking to recoup the consumer losses and to receive a permanent prohibition against the alleged scheme. The case is being handled at the FTC office in Atlanta, Ga.