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Post date: February 8 1999

Settlement Bars Telemarketer From Doing Business In Ny

Attorney General Spitzer today announced a court ordered settlement with a California-based telemarketing firm that deceived consumers into believing they were purchasing information on possible business opportunities from an official governmental agency.

"The level of deception involved in this scam was truly amazing," Spitzer said. "Consumers thought they were dealing with a branch of government, and they thought they were purchasing special information from which they might profit. As it turned out, the ‘government agency' was a shady telemarketing company and the ‘special information' was readily obtained for free at any library."

The company -- using the name "U.S. Agency of Consumer Affairs" -- advertised the availability of special information on the auction of surplus government vehicles. When consumers responded to this company's advertisement, they were asked to provide bank account information under the guise that the information was necessary to verify credit for buying a car at auction. Upon receiving this information, the company debited the consumer's account for $149.95 without authorization. This firm then sent a packet of information which could easily be obtained for free at any public library.

Under the terms of the settlement (reached in State Supreme Court in Binghamton), the principals of "U.S. Agency of Consumer Affairs" have been barred from doing business in New York State. The court order also provides that the company will make refunds to New York consumers who were billed for the scam, provided they file a complaint with the State Attorney General's office.

Consumers who wish to file a complaint against "U.S. Agency of Consumer Affairs" (otherwise known as U.S. Realty Funding) must do so by March 27, 1999. Individuals who have questions are encouraged to call the Attorney General's consumer hotline at 1-800-771-7755.