Iowa AG files suit over sweepstakes scam
DES MOINES, Iowa (Legal Newsline)-Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller filed a lawsuit Friday alleging that a direct-mail operator deceived Iowans into thinking they had won cash prizes worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The attorney general said Paul Gluchanicz of Wayne, Pa, who has done business as "Sweepstakes Research Legal Dept.," "Asset Allocation Authority," "American Award Advisory," and others, got many older Iowans to send his companies a $20 "administration" or "registration" fees to collect their purported prize money.
"First, we allege the mailings were deceptive," Miller said. "Second, we allege that Iowans wasted and lost their $20 payments because they received nothing more than a list of other sweepstakes and contests."
Miller said "perhaps most offensive," Gluchanicz collected and sold lists of the persons who responded to the deceptive solicitations.
"Such lists exposed vulnerable individuals to still more victimization," Miller said. "Such lists would be invaluable to questionable prize promoters or telemarketers with designs on the vulnerable elderly."
Gluchanicz's mailings were sent in envelopes with such return addresses as "Payer Office, Asset Allocation Authority," and bore such headings as "Payout Confirmation Notice" and "Official Notification," court papers say.
Moreover, the mailings used terms that implied that the sender had been looking for the consumer - like "found," "track," "trace" and "recipient identified" -- and terms that insinuated that the recipient had already won a big prize - like "claimant" and "official notification," the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit was filed in Polk County District Court. It seeks preliminary and permanent injunctions prohibiting deceptive practices, restitution to Iowa consumers, "disgorgement of all ill-gotten gain."
The lawsuit also seeks civil penalties up to $40,000 per violation, and additional civil penalties up to $5,000 per violation for consumer fraud committed against an Iowan age 65 or over.
From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo by e-mail at email@example.com.