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Consumer Fraud News

Arizona Telemarketing Fraudsters to Pay $6M

After receiving more than 350 complaints from bilked consumers, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich obtained a judgment in excess of $6 million against five people involved in a fraudulent telemarketing company.

The Phoenix Business Journal reports that three of the five defendants, Chalonne Foerster, Brian Scribner, and Vanessa Fitzgerald, were deemed guilty by a judge for violations of the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act and the Arizona Telephone Solicitation Statute. Foerster’s husband, Kyle Evans, and Fitzgerald’s husband, Patrick Passarelli, were found guilty of being members of an unlawful enterprise and racketeering, as were the other three defendants.

A Maricopa County Superior Court judgement shows that on July 13, Superior Court Judge Daniel Martin concluded this consumer fraud lawsuit in which a total of 13 defendants and nine corporations were named. The defendants operated under a number of names, including Economic Freedom Corporation, Franklin Financial Marketing, BES Enterprises, CGF Enterprises, F Marketing, Fast Website Marketing, Pro Marketing, and Scribner Marketing to sell websites to consumers for fees ranging between $250 and $500.

According to AZFamily.com, the defendants used these and other telemarketing companies to sell websites, telling consumers that they could “work from home” and earn substantial commissions selling credit card processing equipment and other services from these websites. Once a consumer purchased a website, they would be contacted by a second telemarketing company which used high-pressure tactic to convince many of them to spend thousands of dollars on “advertising packages” to boost their new online businesses.

However, between 2009 and when the company was eventually shut down in 2012, the Attorney General’s Office received more than 350 complaints from consumers who claimed that the never earned a penny from the online businesses they were conned into purchasing. In fact, many of them claimed that the telemarketers had emptied out their bank accounts and/or left them with massive credit card debt. Many of the consumers who invested in the scam were elderly people who depended on very limited incomes, and were now left impoverished with no hope of future earnings.

In last month’s ruling, Judge Martin ordered the defendants to pay a total of $897,946 in restitution to victimized consumers, and so far the Attorney General’s Office has distributed more than $666,000 to 288 victims. Scribner, Foerster, and Fitzgerald were each also ordered to pay $760,000 in civil penalties and all defendants are barred from participating in telemarketing or the sale of business opportunities in the future. Court costs for the litigation totaled $163,587.00, and attorneys’ fees rose to $2,693,838.42. If the defendants file bankruptcy, the state will garnish future wages or issue property liens until the full settlement is met.

Other defendants named in the lawsuit had reached previous settlements or been issued previous judgements by the court.

In this case, hundreds of trusting consumers bought into a scam business with the hope that their investments would quickly turn to profits. Sadly, says a spokesperson for the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, these “work from home” deals are often too good to be true, but this doesn’t stop unscrupulous individuals from preying on the hopes of innocent consumers who simply want to ensure their financial futures. If you or your loved one has been taken advantage of by what you believe may be a consumer fraud scheme, our experienced attorneys can help you pursue justice and compensation for your losses. For more information, please contact us today to speak with a consumer fraud lawyer at no cost to you.