Gansler, Fla. company reach agreement
BALTIMORE (Legal Newsline) - Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler announced an agreement on Friday with a Florida company that allegedly required fees to be eligible for fictitious large cash prizes.
The assurance of discontinuance with Synchronicity LLC and its owner/manager Michael J. Conners requires that the company and its owner stop making misleading offers of prizes and other awards to Maryland consumers. They must also stop using a Maryland post office box, requiring payment of any fee to receive a prize and misrepresenting their sponsorship.
Synchronicity allegedly engaged in unfair and deceptive trade practices in connection with its mail solicitations, representing that consumers had won large cash prizes, grants or awards. The company was also alleged to have falsely held itself out as a Maryland government agency, a law firm and a large organization. Consumers allegedly responded by paying fees ranging from $20 to as much as $149.99. In return, they received a list of prizes, class action awards, grants or checks for $1.
"It is illegal in Maryland to require fees in order to claim a prize," Gansler said. "Unfortunately, Synchronicity relied on consumers' good will and trust in others to prey on their hopes and dreams. Consumers should never respond to a company that offers big prizes, but requires payment of a fee to claim any winnings."
As part of the agreement, $108,604 in fees that were charged to Maryland consumers plus fees for out-of-state consumers who file complaints in the next six months must be refunded. Synchronicity and Conners agreed to pay $30,000 for legal costs and a civil penalty of $25,000, which increases to $100,000 if either the company or its owner violate the terms of the agreement.