Santa Barbara County Man Sentenced to Six Years in Federal Prison for Running $6 Million Job Scam

LOS ANGELES—A Santa Ynez man who falsely promised bartending and “mystery shopper” jobs to people around the country has been sentenced to serve six years in federal prison for operating the scheme that took more than $6 million from thousands of victims across the United States.

Stevan P. Todorovic, 40, was sentenced yesterday afternoon by United States District Judge Terry J. Hatter Jr.

In sentencing Todorovic, Judge Hatter noted that, while the case involved a substantial loss amount and involved a large number of 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.

The evidence presented at trial showed that Todorovic set up companies in Santa Barbara—American Bartending Institute and Consumer Response Group—to market and sell bogus training programs, “certifications,” and job referrals. Todorovic placed advertisements in newspapers across the country offering bartending and “mystery shopping” positions. Those who inquired about the jobs were then misled into thinking they had to purchase Todorovic’s certification programs in order to receive referrals to bars and retail establishments that wanted to hire bartenders or mystery shoppers. The certifications, however, were worthless, and Todorovic had no jobs to offer.

The evidence at trial showed that 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.

The case against Todorovic was investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The matter was referred by the Federal Trade Commission, which had filed a civil lawsuit against Todorovic.