Court Finds World Trade Center "freedom Tower Silver Dollar" Ads Deceptive
>Attorney General Spitzer hailed a court decision that a Port Chester company engaged in a deceptive and misleading advertising campaign in connection with its marketing and sale of a medallion commemorating the tragic events of September 11, 2001.
State Supreme Court Justice Joseph R. Cannizzaro of Albany County ruled that National Collector's Mint, Inc. engaged in fraud, false advertising, and deceptive business practices in the company's marketing of its "2004 Freedom Tower Silver Dollar." In the decision, Justice Cannizzaro permanently enjoined the company from engaging in all of the fraudulent and deceptive practices that Spitzer's lawsuit had accused the company of committing. Spitzer had previously obtained a temporary court order prohibiting the company from marketing and selling the medallion during the lawsuit.
"This company capitalized on the emotional and historical significance of the events of September 11th through the use of false and misleading claims," Spitzer said. "I am gratified that Justice Cannizzaro acted quickly to put a permanent halt to this deceptive advertising campaign."
In September 2004 National Collector's Mint began an extensive advertising campaign for the "2004 Freedom Tower Silver Dollar" on television, in magazines and on its website. The ads depicted the medallion as a "legally authorized government issue silver dollar" and as a "U.S. territorial minting" from the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. In fact, the medallion is not a government issued silver dollar, but was manufactured and issued by a private company. The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands uses U.S. currency and is not authorized to mint legal tender.
The ads also claimed that the coin was made of pure silver from silver bars recovered at Ground Zero during recovery operations. Spitzer's lawsuit showed, however, that the medallion is not made of pure or solid silver, but is an inexpensive metal alloy plated with approximately one ten-thousandth of an inch of silver valued at approximately 1.4 cents. The question of whether the silver used in the medallions is actually from Ground Zero is still under investigation, Spitzer said.
In his decision, Justice Cannizzaro stated that the company's ads "clearly are deceptive" and would mislead consumers into believing that the medallion is solid silver and is a "U.S. Government issued coin constituting legal tender." Justice Cannizzaro called the company's claim that the coin was government issued "disingenuous." The court will conduct further proceedings to determine the appropriate mechanism for consumers to obtain refunds, and for the assessment of civil penalties against the company.
Individuals who wish to file a complaint are encouraged to contact the Attorney General's consumer help line at (800) 771-7755 or visit his website at www.ag.ny.gov. Consumers from outside New York State should call (518) 474-5481.
This case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Matthew Barbaro of the Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau.