Phoenix, AZ (Thursday, March 6, 2014) – As part of National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW), Attorney General Tom Horne wants to remind consumers to “just hang up” on telemarketing scammers. Every year, consumers lose thousands of dollars by paying fraudulent telemarketers for products or services that are never received, business opportunities that fail to produce income, or lotteries that provide no payout.
“Telemarketing fraud is a pervasive and devastating problem that makes victims out of innocent consumers, especially seniors,” said Attorney General Horne. “Consumer protection and aggressive prosecution continues to be a priority for my office and we remain vigilant in our efforts to put illegal telemarketers out of business.”
Defendants Corey and Tesha McCormick operated Consumer Benefits Research Group, Inc., falsely told consumers their company had conducted investigations and discovered personal information was being resold. Defendants then offered to sell an identity theft protection program that did little to protect them from actual fraud. Although the Defendants were permanently prohibited from engaging in future violations, they changed the name of their business to Active Fraud Solutions and IDMAX and continued to engage in the deceptive conduct. The Attorney General’s Office filed a contempt petition based on the violations of the 2011 order and in January, 2014, a Consent Judgment was filed that prohibited the McCormick's from being involved in any entity that engages in the telemarketing of services or business opportunities, accepting payments from their customers and selling the personal information of their customers. The defendants also were required to pay restitution to their victims, attorneys’ fees and costs to the State and civil penalties.
The Attorney General’s Office also obtained a judgment against Fresh Start Handicapped Workers, Inc., a Phoenix-based telemarketing company that sold various household products and claimed that 85 percent of their revenue was directed to disabled employees when the majority of sales revenue went to the company’s owners, managers and supervisors, none of whom were disabled. Fresh Start also failed to comply with state and federal laws governing telephone solicitors by calling consumers’ telephone numbers that were on the national Do-Not-Call Registry. The judgment prohibited Fresh Start from using the words “handicapped” or “disabled” unless the majority of the company’s workers and all of its salespersons who called consumers met the federal definition of a disabled person. Fresh Start also was required to pay the Attorney General’s Office $10,000 in civil penalties.
Finally, the Attorney General’s Office obtained judgments against several individuals and businesses that tried to sell, via telemarketing, webstores or “webmalls,” promising consumers they could earn substantial incomes from sales of products made from their websites. In spite of the representations, customers of Solid Ad Solutions, LLC, E-Web Financial, LLC and their successor companies never recouped their investment after purchasing the website. The Attorney General’s Office obtained judgments against the business entities, the principal of the companies, Christopher Lewallen, several salespeople and the office manager.
If you have been a victim of telemarketing fraud or other deceptive or unfair business practices, you may file a consumer complaint with the Attorney General’s Office. To file a consumer complaint online, please visit https://www.azag.gov/complaints#consumer. If you have questions or would like to request a complaint form, contact the Consumer Information & Complaints Unit at (602) 542-5763 (Phoenix)/ (520) 628-6504 (Tucson) / or toll free outside metro Phoenix, (800) 352-8431.