DES MOINES, Iowa (Legal Newsline) - Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller announced a court order Tuesday to bar an Osceola-based telemarketing company and its operators from conducting professional fundraising in Iowa.
Under the terms of a consent judgment, Telequal LLC, a for-profit fundraising company, Travis Held and Amanda Held, the company's owners, and Jeffrey Jones and Jennifer Jones, the company's employees, are prohibited from operating in Iowa, moving operations to another state and calling into Iowa and using donor information in the future.
Miller's Consumer Protection Division alleged a Telequal employee attempted to call a 73-year-old widow with Alzheimer's disease and lied when attempting to raise funds for A Child's Dream Foundation, a Knoxville, Tenn.-based non-profit organization.
"She said she was calling from the charity, claimed that the charity focused primarily on sick Iowa kids, and also claimed that a lot of each donation went to the kids," Miller said. "In truth, the call was coming from Telequal. They were asking for money for an out of state charity that has no special Iowa focus, and 85 percent of every dollar donated went to the telemarketer, not to sick kids."
Shortly before Miller planned to file a consumer fraud lawsuit against Telequal, the business started to shut down. The consent judgment finalizes the shutdown of the organization.
"Our Consumer Protection Division staff has long viewed Telequal as a legally marginal operation, at best, and our recent investigation confirmed that deceptive fundraising pitches were commonplace among Telequal's telemarketers," Miller said. "This court order gives the company and its principals no wiggle room in opening up shop again in Iowa."
Miller's office shut down three Iowa telemarketing operations in the last three years for allegedly deceptive practices.
"Iowa has a great workforce, and it's a place where legitimate businesses can and do thrive," Miller said. "But our state will not harbor deceptive telemarketing operations that prey upon people here in Iowa or any other state."