Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive
Friday, July, 20, 2001
JURY RETURNS VERDICT AGAINST WORK-AT-HOME SCAM
Ruth Steiber Cited for Activities Tied to Houston-Based Billing Services
AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn prevailed in a Harris County District Court today when a jury returned a verdict against Ruth Steiber for enticing work-at-home clients into believing they could make a great deal of money operating billing services for physicians. The jury found her liable for engaging in false, misleading and deceptive acts under both the Deceptive Trade Practices Act and the Business Opportunities Act, while they also acknowledged she financially injured her many clients in the process.
The jury ordered $170,000 in civil penalties and attorneys' fees. The AG's Office is seeking $400,000 in restitution to injured consumers, a measure on which the court will rule in about three weeks.
The two services Steiber offered as "business opportunities" in local newspapers and on her Internet Web site - Doctor's Advantage and R&S Consulting Services - were marketed as having a high income potential for people who prefer to work at home. At the same time, she urged clients to invest in billing software and her personal services for about $4,000, plus several more thousand dollars in related office materials and equipment. She promised that she would ensure strong support and training in helping them land physician accounts. None of these promises materialized for most participants.
"Anyone who deliberately seeks to defraud well-meaning, hard-working clients in a phony business opportunity scheme should be dealt with harshly, and this court and this jury performed admirably in that regard," said Attorney General Cornyn. "Many of these work-at-home clients were elderly or disabled and needed an honest income. Ms. Steiber made it her mission to take from these people and give little or nothing in return."
Steiber also urged her work-at-home clients to self-market their services by mass-mailing 1,000 solicitation brochures to prospective physician-clients. What she deliberately avoided telling her clients, however, was that her many other clients were soliciting the same pool of doctors and health-care services across Houston with the same brochures.
Steiber's many work-at-home clients wound up in financial straits and felt betrayed and abandoned. More than 30 victims of the fraud testified during the trial. Many have asserted that she refused to return phone calls for assistance and never gave the support and marketing expertise she promised.
Cornyn's office filed suit in February 2000 and obtained an injunction to freeze Steiber's personal and business assets pending resolution of the case.
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