(Phoenix, Ariz. – Dec. 19, 2006) Attorney General Terry Goddard today announced that his office has filed a consumer fraud and racketeering lawsuit against a Phoenix-based company that allegedly sold fake pharmaceutical Web sites to unwitting consumers, many of whom are senior citizens living on fixed incomes.
Guaranteed Prescriptions Pharmaceutical Wealth Network used the Internet, direct mailers and telemarketing to solicit consumers, claiming that they could earn thousands of dollars by selling discounted prescription drugs online to the general public. The company also marketed under the names of National Pharmaceutical Network, Executive Marketing Group, Premier Marketing Group and VIP Marketing.
Named in the lawsuit were Brent D. Emerson and his wife, Louise Jayne Gore, of Scottsdale; Anthony White and his wife, Lisa K. White, of Phoenix; and Gary Murdie, of Phoenix.
The Attorney General’s Office learned through its investigation that few, if any, consumers actually earned money through defendants’ online business opportunity. According to a mailer quoted in court documents, the defendants claimed the following:
“We’ve teamed up with Pfizer, Merck, Bristol Myers, Johnson and Johnson and many others to create a completely automated online pharmacy website!” The mailer went onto say: “Every order placed at your pharmacy is filled by a U.S. based manufacturer. Every prescription order is reviewed by a licensed U.S. based physician! This practice is in accordance with FDA regulations and is perfectly legal.”
Consumers were told that a complete at-home business could be purchased for under $1,000. According to the complaint, after purchasing a Web site, the defendants used high-pressure sales tactics to persuade consumers to purchase advertising packages with an additional cost of thousands of dollars. Defendants urged consumers to apply for loans, borrow money from friends and relatives or maximize their credit card limits to pay for the advertising. It is believed that defendants earned millions of dollars from consumers who had little or no knowledge of computer technology.
The complaint alleges that defendants engaged in violations of the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act and Racketeering statutes. A temporary restraining order was issued last week by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge J. Dunevant suspending the company’s operations.
The Attorney General’s Office is asking the Maricopa County Superior Court to:
- Prohibit the defendants from selling Web sites.
- Require the defendants to return to all victims any money or property acquired through deceptive practices.
- Impose a penalty of up to $10,000 for each violation of the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act.
- Prohibit the defendants from liquidating or selling any assets and order forfeiture to the State of all assets that could be used to provide restitution to victims.
- Require the defendants to pay the State’s costs and expenses for this investigation.
A copy of the complaint is attached.