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Company to return $7.75 million to consumers

FRANKFORT - A Kentucky-based company has been ordered to return $7.75 million in assets to more than 350,000 people who were caught up in what officials say was one of the country's largest pyramid schemes.

Officials said Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing would charge people $249 for the rights to sell products like satellite TV service and home security systems. The company would target Spanish-speaking communities and promised them they could get rich if they sold the products. But state and federal officials said the company's promotional materials focused on recruiting new members, not selling products.

"This was a classic pyramid scheme in every sense of the word," Kentucky's Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway said in a news release. "The vast majority of people, more than 90 percent, who bought in to FHTM lost their money."

The Federal Trade Commission, along with Conway and attorneys general in Illinois and North Carolina, announced the settlement Tuesday with the Lexington-based company.

Kentucky officials started investigating Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing in 2010 after officials in North Dakota, Montana and Texas reached settlements with the company. Conway's office said it received about a dozen complaints from consumers.

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