AGs target companies in grant scheme suit

Ashley Stinnett Jul. 23, 2009, 3:34pm


TOPEKA, Kan. (Legal Newsline) - Kansas Attorney General Steve Six, along with two other state attorneys general have filed suit against six companies and five individuals over allegations they charged consumers for non-existing grants.

Six, the Federal Trade Commission, North Carolina's Roy Cooper and Minnesota's Lori Swanson allege consumers who paid the companies up front to obtain grant funding have yet to receive any money.

On Wednesday, a federal judge agreed to block the company's assets and forced the businesses to stop all illegal activities.

The defendants named in the suit are; Affiliate Strategies, Landmark Publishing Group, Grant Writers Institute, Answer Customers, Apex Holdings, and three individuals, Brett Blackman, Jordan Sevy and James Rulison.

The suit alleges the defendants violated state and federal laws on deceptive businesses practices and marketing by targeting consumers through direct mailing and telemarketing calls.

The group uses mailing offers that guarantees $25,000 in government grants from the economic stimulus funding. Consumers are then told to call a toll free number to obtain a grant guide valued at $59 plus $10 shipping and handling, Six said.

Upon paying for the grant guide, the companies inform consumers an additional $995 is needed for "grant research" guaranteeing that all researchers have a 70 percent success rate.

In the end, after all of the payments are made, consumers never see the grant money, instead get a list of grants available, according to Six.

"During this time of economic uncertainty, grant scams are taking advantage of people's hope for financial assistance and scamming them out of hard earned money" Six said.

Six, along with the FTC and other attorneys general are asking the court the order a permanent ban on the defendants' alleged unlawful grant scheme, force them to give up any profits obtained and mandate the companies refund consumers effected by the scamming.

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