A $92,000 Scientology Come-on, Woman Says

Courthouse News/October 1, 2014

By Elizabeth Warmerdam

San Francisco -- A "business coach" defrauded a woman of $92,000 for what turned out to be a Scientology recruitment scheme, she claims in court.
Victoria Comfort sued Justin T. Foxx aka Justin Gorenko and a handful of his companies, including JT Foxx Organization and World Success Company, on Monday in Federal Court. She seeks restitution and punitive damages for fraud, breach of contract, false advertising, conversion, unfair business practices and other charges.
Comfort claims she attended a Foxx event in 2012 in San Francisco, where she was solicited to sign up for a series of coaching investments Foxx called ROI - "return on investment" - sessions, for provide financial and business advice.
Further correspondence from Foxx described live and recorded lectures with detailed information and techniques to help people create and develop a business plan, market the business, and succeed financially, Comfort claims.
The prepaid coaching sessions promised an experienced business coach to provide one-on-one assistance over a period of time, allowing the coach to become familiar with the client's business, the complaint states.
Based on these promises, Comfort says, she paid $68,000 for lectures on CD, several live lectures, and a series of one-on-one business coaching sessions.
 Foxx put Comfort in touch with a coach, but she says she had to be assigned two other coaches after the first could not complete the sessions. The third coach met with Comfort one time. Despite repeatedly asking about the rest of her coaching sessions, Comfort says, she never received the full extent of the personal coaching she was promised.
During a social event that Foxx organized for clients, Comfort says, she was induced to donate $10,000 to a charity allegedly sponsored by a member of Donald Trump's family, who was said to be a contributor and associate of Foxx.
Comfort claims she was promised additional coaching sessions in return for her donation, and tickets to the taping of an episode of the reality television show "Celebrity Apprentice" in New York.
But Comfort says she never got any of those benefits.
She claims she paid another $14,000 for a lecture series, "Perfect Business Model," presented by Foxx's employee and instructor, Meir Ezra. The series included three events, the first in January 2013 in Tampa, Fla., and the second in March 2013 in Chicago, the complaint states.
Ezra is not a party to this lawsuit.
"During the first and second Meir Ezra events, plaintiff discovered the events were being utilized to proselytize and promote Scientology as opposed to imparting financial and business advice. Plaintiff thought perhaps she had misunderstood the nature of the first Meir Ezra event. However, by the second event it was clear that the emphasis at the Meir Ezra event was on Scientology and not business coaching as represented," the complaint states.
Comfort did not finish the second event and decided not to go to the third. She asked Foxx to return the money she paid for the lecture series, but he did not, she says. She claims she also asked for a refund for the coaching services that she did not receive and for the lectures on CD that were primarily motivational and lacked any real information.
Shortly after Comfort's complaints, Foxx announced through email that it was ending its relationship with Ezra, upon which Foxx and Ezra made mutual accusations against each other publicly, Comfort says.
Although Foxx finally acknowledged Comfort's demands for a refund, it did nothing in response and continued to charge her for the subscription for lectures on CD, and eventually rejected her demands in writing, the complaint states.
Comfort seeks compensatory and punitive damages.
She is represented by Philip Terry with Carle, Mackie, Power & Ross, of Santa Rosa.

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