Listen up folks: In addition to NEVER giving your credit card information to a telemarketer you didn’t contact, don’t send your hard-earned dollars off in pursuit of a “prize” pitch that came in the mail.
Hundreds of thousands of Americans were duped into an alleged scam that promised them a prize. All the supposed winner had to do was send in $20 to claim. But, to be fair, the official-looking mailers carried the names of fictitious government agencies and official-looking seals. Here’s the deal: Legit prizes don’t require you to pay a claim fee or prepay taxes.
The Federal Trade Commission brought down the curtain on the web of companies and defendants that were skimming from dim-witted consumers’ pockets.
The settlement order — against Tully Lovisa and his two companies — International Award Advisors Inc. and Spectrum Caging Service Inc — imposed a judgment of nearly $15.5 million. Also named was Lisa Lovisa, Lovisa’s wife, who was ordered to pay $170,000 for allegedly profiting from the scam. The judgment against against Lovisa and his companies will be suspended when the defendants surrender $196,000 held by third parties, proceeds from the sale of the Lovisas’ home and personal property, $6K in cash, and a 2007 BMW.
Also named in the settlement order were Steven McClenahan and his four companies, Prize Registry Bureau Inc., Consolidated Data Bureau Inc., Registered Data Analytics Inc., and Lloyd Brannigan Exchange Inc. McClenahan’s judgment of $15.5 million will be set aside when he has turned over $97,000 in corporate bank accounts and paid $7,800.
The settlement order against Geovanni Sorino, Jorge A. Castro, and two companies they control, National Awards Service Advisory LLC and Central Processing of Nevada LLC, imposes a judgment of more than $5.5 million, which will be suspended.
The settlements bar the defendants from the prize promotion business, permanently prohibits misrepresentations about any product or service, and bans them from selling or otherwise benefitting from customers’ personal information, and mandates that the defendants properly dispose of customers’ personal information within 30 days.
The full judgment amounts will be immediately due if the defendants are found to be misrepresenting their financial status.
Here’s a tip: If it seems too good to be true, it is. At the very least, plug the name of the government agency into a google search to see if it even exists.