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The time has come and I’m so happy to hear of this news! The FTC is suing Digital Altitude/Aspire, it’s owner Michael Force, plus all related parties, for their business coaching scheme. The suit was filed Jan. 29, 2018 in California federal court and the FTC issued a press release on Feb 8, 2018.
The Federal Trade Commission is suing Digital Altitude/Aspire for violating the FTC Act, taking over $14 million from consumers who were seeking to start their own online business with their digital marketing system.
The defendants’ operation misled tons of consumers by making them think they will be making a substantial income by using grossly exaggerated marketing tactics like making “six figures in 90 days or less”.
There are many more details I will go over below, but I’ve been telling you all not to join Digital Altitude/Aspire for quite some time now as they are nothing more than a bunch of people that tell lies to make their money.
The most obvious thing to me and what I figured out was that their coaching system was nothing more than some sleazy sales system to make you spend money.
It always sounded great that you were going to get our own millionaire coach and a sales team to close sales for you but they are one of the same!
Your coach was your sponsor’s sales team, and your referral’s coach was your sales team.
It’s confirmed in the suit as follows:
These “coaches” are in fact salespeople for Defendants who are paid on commission to sell Digital Altitude memberships. They are not required to have any business coaching qualifications. Indeed, Digital Altitude encourages consumers to use its “sales team” to close sales for them, but many consumers do not realize the “sales team” and the “coaching” staff are one and the same—that their sales tactic is to play the role of “coach.”
No one is actually being coached by any millionaires and no one is really making any six figures or making that in 90 days or less.
FTC’s complaint states that most of Digital Altitude/Aspire’s customers never made any significant amounts of money and some customers even giving them as much as over $50,000.
I’m not surprised one bit and glad FTC is finally taking action and shutting down this scheme.
The defendants list is long and consists of the following:
- Digital Altitude LLC
- Digital Altitude Limited
- Aspire Processing LLC
- Aspire Processing Limited
- Aspire Ventures Ltd
- Disc Enterprises Inc.
- RISE Systems & Enterprise LLC (Utah)
- RISE Systems & Enterprise LLC (Nevada)
- Soar International Limited Liability Company
- The Upside LLC
- Thermography for Life LLX, dab Living Exceptionally Inc.
- Michael Force
- Mary Dee
- Morgan Johnson
- Alan Moore
- Sean Brown
Many of the companies on this list were created to apply for more merchant accounts since they were being shut down by merchants multiple times for the amount of chargebacks they had.
These guys still continued on by using new companies and even using their personal names to apply for merchant accounts.
This just all show the extent they will go to continue to scam innocent people who’s really wanting to learn how to make money online.
If You Don’t Want To Waste Anymore Time On Scams,
See My #1 Recommended Way of Making Money Online:
HOW THE DIGITAL ALTITUDE / ASPIRE SCAM WORKED
Digital Altitude is the company that produces the Aspire program and the Aspire program is the one that is often being promoted.
Their Aspire program was often promoted by email marketing and many other ways as per FTC’s press release:
The defendants promoted their scheme via webpages and social media platforms, including Facebook and Instagram, and offered their marketing materials for consumers to use in posting their own ads touting the scheme.
How they promoted their program was often unethical by using different branded names to promote a system that’s supposed to make people loads of money but most of the time the actual system of Aspire was never mentioned.
Examples of Aspire Being Promoted Under Different Names:
They would promote Aspire as different systems that runs 100% on autopilot, everything done for you basically, including giving you a millionaire coach and your personal sales team to close sales, and using their system would make them a lot of money very quickly.
In none of their marketing efforts do they ever disclose to their potential customers that there are significant costs to their program that is required before they can start making any of the commissions they boast about in their sales videos.
Instead, you’re led to believe you only have to work 30 minutes a day, get a magical done-for-you system, for a small price of $37 or $47, sometimes even try for $1 or free for 14 trial days.
Little do all these people know what’s in the works for them after that initial payment.
How They Get You
After you join, you will go through some training but you won’t be able to get far into the training without needing to get on the phone to talk to your “coach”.
Your coach in reality is never a real coach that has made their own six figure online business but some sales person trying to make you spend money and acts as your sponsor’s (the person that got you to join) sales team.
In the Aspire program, you need to join membership levels and buy high ticket programs to be able to make any money with their system – a little fact that nobody gets to know about before they join unless they did some research and see a review like mine.
They call this the “licensing rights” model while traditional affiliate marketing model doesn’t require this and this is what I called them on when I first reviewed them.
Here are the different membership levels:
Here are the high ticket packages:
- Base – $597
- Rise – $1,997
- Ascend – $9,997
- Peak – $16,997
- Apex – $29,997
The way this worked is that if you haven’t bought into a level or package, you can’t make money from their system.
So if you don’t want to miss any commissions, one must invest $97/month plus over $59K!
But once they have your money, where’s the coach? Bye bye coach!
That is why this FTC suit was filed because most people who have paid these outrageous fee never make the kind of money that they were advertised to:
Defendants extract steep fees for membership, but the vast majority of consumers who pay Defendants never earn substantial income, much less the claimed “six figures.”
Furthermore, in the suit, FTC also cited:
Defendants also tell consumers, for example, that Digital Altitude salespeople will “do all the work” for the consumer to generate sales, which will yield commissions—the consumer’s anticipated income. This is not the case. Instead, the consumer is responsible for advertising, generating internet traffic, and bringing new consumers to Digital Altitude. For many consumers, even doing all of this yields few if any sales, and little or no income.
I have always brought up this point in my reviews of fake systems that actually promote Aspire, the people who join this will actually have the hardest job of this whole “done-for-you” system, the recruiting.
You would need to do massive recruiting to find the very few who could also have thousands of dollars to put into this system and in doing so, you’ll be spending even more money, in the thousands, to promote such a system.
Will Michael Force strike again with a new program after this suit is over?
Who knows, but I hope he’s learned his lesson and will not be misleading and deceiving people again to make his money.
The other lesson to learn is on you, people who are looking for opportunities to make money online. There are many other scams out there and FTC can only go after one at a time.
You need to learn that:
- Making money online takes time.
- Making money online takes real hard work, not 30 mins a day but more like 20 hours a week or more if you’re serious.
- You don’t have to pay money thousands of dollars to make thousands of dollars.
- There are no magical systems out there that will just dump cash into your bank account with a click of a button (or a few buttons).
If you can learn those lessons, you will be able to get away from at least half the scams that are out there because they usually lure you with quick easy money which doesn’t exist online.
There are definitely ways to making money online but it depends on what you want to do.
I’ve tried many things like 2 handmade ecommerce shops, social media influencer, PTC sites, but I always have liked affiliate marketing because the ease of it and barrier to entry is still very much wide open because you can build this business with any topic you’d like.
If you haven’t checked out what I do and what I’ve used to learn everything I’ve built, you can read my free guide here:
As I hate being misled or deceived, you won’t be finding any of that in my free guide, just honest information about what I’ve done and what worked and what didn’t.
Nothing is left out and you’ll see the training I used to help me get started that I still use today because of all the help I get with it.
I’m also there to help you as well so that you don’t have to worry about not being able to ask questions, in fact, you’ll be able to ask questions to a community of people.
I’ve been there since Sep ’16, and haven’t left because it’s really a resourceful community to be in as well as always learning something new there.
So if you’re ready to build a real online business and not be side tracked by shiny objects like Aspire that lie about making tons of money in the next 90 days, you’re welcome to join me and work hard together.
If you have any questions or thoughts regarding FTC suing Digital Altitude, Aspire, & Michael Force, or anything else, please do not hesitate to leave me a comment below. I always reply to my readers! 🙂
Let’s make money online!
12 thoughts on “FTC Sues Digital Altitude, Aspire, et al For Over $14 Million: Michael Force Forced To Shut Down?”
I find it in poor taste that a blog has to bash another program so they can twist it to sell their own product. Why not write something like “What to look for before joining a high ticket program” or “How to Market in Affiliate Marketing”. In essence – something useful and teaching and definitely show the merits of your personal program without dragging other programs into it. You seem quite the writer, use your talent to do some good.
I don’t have to twist or bash anything here. You’re on a post about a company that manipulates consumers and misrepresents itself time and time again and finally FTC is SUING them for it. The facts speak for themselves and I’m just writing what the facts are, there’s no need for me to twist anything.
In my last paragraph, I talked about lessons learned and what consumers need to be aware of and teaching people that there are no quick ways to get rich on the internet without hard work. Isn’t that teaching people??
I don’t need to drag this program down, it dragged itself down.
They are being SUED, hello!
WE HOPE THEY WILL REFUND THE AFILIATES
I hope for your sake they will make Digital Altitude refund the affiliates!
Hi Grace, great article. I was previously recruited by an acquaintance to sign up for the Aspire system. I knew it was a scam after the first five minutes of the training. I noticed that you have an affiliate link to Wealthy Affiliate in your guide. While it’s certainly not as deceiving or unethical as the tactics used by digital altitude, Wealthy Affiliate is still in the same family as DA in my view. You have to sign up for a premium account to receive maximum commissions and the product itself has no intrinsic value (you can learn all about building successful websites, online business, SEO, etc. just by searching Google). Most of their sites are in the “make money online” related niches where you basically try to convince others into signing up for the same program. Those people then end up promoting WA as affiliates and the cycle continues.
Also, most web hosting sites only charge a few dollars a month which is much cheaper than WA membership. Any business model in which you have to pay in order to be an affiliate is suspect at best. It’s just a flatter pyramid scheme without the multiple membership levels.
Thank you for your comment and thoughts here.
I will break it down for you how Wealthy Affiliate is HARDLY in the same family as Digital Altitude. While lines seem blurred to you, it’s quite clear to me the difference between DA and WA.
They are in fact almost opposite sides of the spectrum.
Let’s start with DA being an MLM, WA is NOT. This alone makes them NOT in the same family. These are totally different organizational structures.
DA uses a pay to play licensing business model (one that you must buy into the product before making any commissions), WA uses the traditional affiliate marketing business model where you don’t have to pay before you make any commissions and that is why there is a Starter membership, which is free for life.
You’re not FORCED to pay for a membership at WA to make money with their affiliate program, it’s a choice, whereas at DA, it’s not a choice but a requirement.
DA affiliates make money off of other members’ sales that they recruit in, WA affiliates don’t. Any MLM that depend heavily on making money from recruiting is called a pyramid scheme, part of the reason why DA is being sued.
You are the most wrong here: “the product itself has no intrinsic value (you can learn all about building successful websites, online business, SEO, etc. just by searching Google)”
Wealthy Affiliate has the most comprehensive affiliate marketing training out there, organized in such a way that you will learn things in proper order so you can build your business correctly from the beginning.
“Just searching in Google” doesn’t work I’m afraid, been there, done that. You cannot grasp all the details of building this business by just Googling it.
WA training provides an in-depth way of learning this business that just googling it can’t provide. I know this because I was searching myself for years, looking for something like what WA provides.
WA provides much more than training, it provides:
* hosting which you knocked down but those cheap packages don’t come close to quality hosting WA provides, if you look for comparable plans, they run in the $199-$299/month, while the Premium membership is only $49/month which includes more than hosting.
* weekly live webinars – expert host to learn from every week, 52 times a year. No other training platform provides this.
* Keyword research tool – this is also included in FREE & Premium memberships – the tools is essential to this business and if you get it separately, it’s another at least another $29 – $99/month elsewhere.
* Community of help – you literally have experts at your fingertips to ask questions to as well as the owners themselves are available.
* Hosting comes with FREE SSL certificates & domains come with private registration for free.
* much more see my guide
Here’s another part that you are wrong: “Most of their sites are in the “make money online” related niches where you basically try to convince others into signing up for the same program. Those people then end up promoting WA as affiliates and the cycle continues.”
At Digital Altitude, all members do the same thing.
At Wealthy Affiliate, members are free to build any business they want in ANY topic they want. if there are LOTS of members promoting WA, it’s because they all LOVE it, and it’s by CHOICE.
I know many members who are successful in many other niches and through various other affiliate programs. There is even a member that’s in the MMO niche that doesn’t really promote WA and he makes 5 digits a month from promoting other things in the MMO niche and not WA.
I know the value of the Wealthy Affiliate training and platform, that is why I promote them and still use their platform today, I’ve been a member since Sep ’16.
Digital Altitude and Wealthy Affiliate are not even in the same realm.
It’s pretty black and white to me.
Hope this explains it better but check my guide for more info.
Best to you,
When or how do I sue DA to get my money back?
I’m not sure, you should just consult a lawyer and tell them about this current case by the FTC.
I have no knowledge of how to get your money back from Digital Altitude, sorry.
Hoping the best for you,
I am one of those who bought into digital altitudes “family” coaching. Once I was not able to come up with $60,000, I no longer received contact from my coaches. I was not “permitted” to go on and make money, but was left at a stand still until I could at least come up with another $10,000. My husband now has cancer and I was looking up the information in my account to ask for my money or what ever part of my money I could get back when I saw your blog. I did not know any of this. What? No notice to their so important members of their tiers? I am just gutted. Thousands of dollars……
Hi Joanna, I’m so sorry to hear of your situation and the news of your husband. You guys are going through so much and you certainly didn’t need this to go with it all.
The only thing I can tell you is try to find out how you can get your money back from the law suit that’s going on. I’m sure if you contacted the lawyers from the FTC side, maybe they can help you.
Or get your own lawyer and tell them about this lawsuit and see how you can get your money back through it.
I hope you will be able to recover something back,
If you lost money and did not make any money wit Digital Altitude can you write it off as a Business Loss on your Income Taxes even though the FTC shut it down.
You will have to check with your tax authorities in your local area. I cannot offer tax advice here.