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Minnesota couple accused of bogus Amazon sales scheme

Amazon logo from Wikimedia Commons

PLYMOUTH, Minn.—A Plymouth couple is accused of making more than $15 million selling bogus business opportunities and coaching services to unwitting entrepreneurs.

Jessie Connors Tieva and Matthew Tieva falsely claimed their products, marketed under the name Sellers Playbook, could help customers earn hundreds of thousands of dollars by selling items on Amazon.com, according to a civil complaint filed July 30 in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis.

The Tievas and their New Hope-based businesses, Sellers Playbook and Exposure Marketing Co., are listed as defendants in the lawsuit, which alleges nine violations of Federal Trade Commission regulations and U.S. law. A federal judge halted the operation until the case is resolved, according to a news release issued by the Minnesota state attorney general's office.

Reached by phone Monday evening, Jessie Connors Tieva disputed the allegations made in the complaint.

"We have thousands of students who have been very successful," Connors Tieva said. "Our whole reason for starting this is to help other people become successful. ... There are some people out there who think they can get the world handed to them and not work for anything."

Connors Tieva, who was a contestant on the first season of "The Apprentice" television show with Donald Trump, was also involved in another similar Amazon sales scheme that was forced to shut down earlier this year and return $10.8 million to its customers, according to the complaint.

Sellers Playbook, which was launched in early 2017, touted Connors Tieva's credentials as an "Apprentice" contestant and "serial entrepreneur" in pitching free two-hour seminars to potential customers.

Those who attended these free seminars would be pitched a three-day workshop for between $500 and $1,000, according to the complaint. At these workshops, more intensive training and mentorship would be offered for as much as $48,000, the complaint said.

For these sums, the company told customers they would get access to the Sellers Playbook System, which would allow them to reap profits of up to 70 percent by selling items on Amazon's third-party sales platform, according to the complaint.

"Few, if any, consumers achieved these results, and most lost money," the attorney general's office said in its news release.

A preliminary injunction hearing in the case is scheduled for Aug. 13.

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