Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive



Monday, February 14, 2000

CORNYN STOPS WORK-AT-HOME SCAM

Kicks off National Consumer Protection Week

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn today filed suit against Ruth Steiber, owner of Houston-based Doctor's Advantage, Inc., who fraudulently sold work-at-home business opportunities. Steiber promised a high income to consumers--some who paid as much as $4,000 for medical billing software and her marketing assistance. In the lawsuit, the Attorney General alleges that Steiber violated the Business Opportunity Act (BOA) and the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA).

"Unfortunately, work-at-home schemes prey upon the most vulnerable in our communities-- the disabled or retired who need an income or those who want stay home with their small children or with an ill relative," Attorney General Cornyn said. "Fortunately, the Business Opportunities Act is specifically designed to deter and punish people like Steiber who take advantage of consumers and ignore the laws of this state."

In Texas, companies offering business opportunities must comply with the BOA, but Steiber wholly violated the BOA. The Act requires that the company must post a bond with the State and make numerous financial disclosures to consumers. Businesses also cannot make income-earning representations to consumers without immediately providing supporting data. Additionally, although Steiber identifies the business as Doctor's Advantage, Inc., it is not incorporated under the laws of Texas which is a violation of the DTPA.

The lawsuit alleges that Steiber has also violated the DTPA by representing to consumers that she will provide ongoing sales and marketing help as consumers try to find physicians who will pay them to do medical billing. When consumers seek help with their marketing, they quickly learn Steiber provides no assistance. Further, the consumers find that after sending out hundreds of solicitations to doctors, there is no market for at-home medical billing. Most doctors have similar software and do their own billing.

The temporary restraining order forbids Steiber from conducting any business until she is in complete compliance with the BOA. The temporary restraining order also freezes Steiber's personal and business assets. The lawsuit seeks fines, penalties, attorney's costs and restitution to injured consumers. DTPA allows fines of up to $10,000 to $100,000 per case.

This case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Suzanne Bradley in the Houston Office of the Consumer Protection Division. The lawsuit was filed in the 281st District Court in Houston.

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Contact Mark Heckmann, Heather Browne, or Tom Kelley at (512) 463-2050