A man from Santa Ynez California has been sentenced to serve six years in federal prison for operating a scam falsely promising bartending and mystery shopper jobs. Approximately 87,400 victims across the United States were defrauded by the scheme, which ran from 2001 through 2004 and caused nearly $6.2 million in losses.
Stevan P. Todorovic, 40, was sentenced by United States District Judge Terry J. Hatter Jr. In sentencing Todorovic, Judge Hatter noted that, in addition to taking money from victims, Todorovic caused a “loss of hope, a loss of opportunity.”
Last July, a federal jury convicted Todorovic of seven counts of wire fraud and three counts of mail fraud for making false promises to people seeking work.
According to Federal investigators, Todorovic set up two companies—American Bartending Institute and Consumer Response Group—to sell bogus training programs and job referrals. Todorovic placed advertisements in newspapers across the country offering bartending and mystery shopper jobs. Those who responded to the ads were misled into beliveing they had to purchase Todorovic’s certification programs in order to receive referrals to businesses that wanted to hire bartenders or mystery shoppers. The certifications, however, were not recognized by legitimate mystery shopping companies or other businesses, and Todorovic had no jobs to offer.
Before paying for any training or service, ask questions. Who is behind the offer? What is their experience or what credentials do they have? Who recognizes a certification? Watch for someone who is making promises they can not keep, such as promising jobs or income.
Although this one scammer is off the streets, there are still hundreds out there, trying to get your money. Exercise caution when you are working with an unfamiliar person or organization. Check them out carefully.