Florida regulators have fielded scores of consumer complaints through the years about the how-to-get-rich affiliates of Orlando-based Dynetech Corp. But the grievances have largely fallen through cracks in the government's bureaucracy.
More than 130 complaints have been filed since 2003 with the Florida Attorney General's Office via that agency's fraud hotline. But in each case, the office tagged the complaint as "unregulated" and sent it to the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Staff workers there contacted the company about some of the allegations and asked for its response. But nothing else was done.
Dynetech officials insist that's for good reason: The company did nothing wrong, they say. Most disputes arise when a customer gets buyer's remorse or expects to make easy money with little or no effort, they say.
"The primary issue with the seminar business is that, while marketing representations are true, it still takes actual work and effort on the part of the participant to make it successful," Bud Brewer, a spokesman for Dynetech, wrote in an e-mail in response to written questions from the Orlando Sentinel.
Still, the Florida complaints bear a strong resemblance to ones filed in Texas that triggered a deceptive-trade-practices lawsuit by authorities there.
In records of the Florida complaints, customers describe grand claims of product performance and promises of money-back refunds made by various Dynetech units, including Globaltec and its WizeTrade and Options Made Easy units, which sell how-to investment software and related support seminars.
One report details how Frank Ceci of Boca Raton "attended a class by WizeTrade, and ended up purchasing the software, spent about $3,000, because the company assured him that he could obtain a refund if he was not happy within 15 days."
"It turns out there were exceptions to the refund policy and terms that were not disclosed," the report states, indicating the company refused to provide the refund.
Texas-based Globaltec became a big moneymaker for Dynetech after the Orlando-based company acquired it in 2002. But Globaltec and its various operations also generated consumer complaints, many of which alleged that the software didn't work as advertised or that Globaltec had refused to honor money-back guarantees.
Dynetech settled a 2006 class-action lawsuit containing such allegations about Globaltec's 4X Made Easy software, used in foreign-currency-exchange trading. The company still owes more than $1 million as part of that suit's settlement, according to the recent Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization filed in Orlando by Dynetech and a related company, Telligenix Corp.
Dynetech sold Globaltec — renamed the WizeTrade Group — in August to MB Trading Holdings LLC of El Segundo, Calif. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
But Dynetech is keeping busy with other ventures: So far this year, a half-dozen companies have been created using some form of the Dynetech name, according to state records. Several offer "secured income fund management" services. One describes itself as a real-estate advisory company. All are based at 111 North Magnolia Ave., Suite 1600 — the downtown Orlando address of Dynetech Corp. itself.
With its history of consumer complaints, the Dynetech corporate group's applications to enter the investment-advisory business in various states, including Florida, warrant the close attention of government regulators, said Deepak Gupta, a lawyer for Public Citizen, a consumer-advocacy group based in Washington.
Gupta, who was once involved in litigation against Dynetech, said Texas regulators have clearly been more aggressive than Florida in responding to complaints about Dynetech and its various affiliates.
"Now it looks like someone in the Texas Attorney General's Office is trying to sort it all out," Gupta said.
Richard Burnett can be reached at email@example.com or 407-420-5256.