Iowa’s Attorney General has filed a lawsuit against a direct-mail operator in Pennsylvania that allegedly targets the elderly. Bill Brauch of the consumer protection division of the A-G’s office, says Paul Gluchanicz’s company tells people they’ve won cash prizes worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and need to send in a $20 "administration" or "registration" fees to collect the prize.
Brauch says the key is not the $20 fee, but instead the names gathered from the those who send in the fee are put on a list that’s sold to sweepstakes companies. Brauch says once you get on such a list, the offers continuing coming from companies that try to get your money.
He says you should be very wary, even though the notice asks for very little money, as he says by answering the piece of mail, you put a target on yourself. Brauch says unsolicited mail like this should be a warning sign. Brauch says you should always be suspicious when you win something out of the blue, or are told you have to pay a small fee to win a prize. He says you don’t win big prizes that way.
Brauch says they don’t know for sure how many Iowans may’ve sent in the $20 dollars. Brauch says they filed the lawsuit to try and punish the conduct, and to try and find out more about how many Iowans may’ve been involved, as the company has refused to supply information.
The suit asks for preliminary and permanent injunctions prohibiting deceptive practices, restitution to Iowa consumers, and civil penalties up to $40,000 per violation, and additional civil penalties up to $5,000 a violation for consumer fraud committed against an Iowan age 65 or over.