N.J. AG sues telemarketer
NEWARK, N.J. (Legal Newsline) - New Jersey Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa and the state's Division of Consumer Affairs filed a lawsuit on Thursday against a North Jersey telemarketing company that allegedly solicited residents on behalf of unregistered charities.
PJG Enterprises LLC and Paul J. Grossi, the owner and operator of the Fairfield- and Towaco-based company, allegedly function as paid fundraisers for charities that are not registered with the state. The charities allegedly failed to keep financial records or other documents necessary to ensure transparency and integrity of charities and their paid fundraisers.
Grossi and PJG were the subject of a complaint that came from the parent of a 17-year-old female employee who was concerned about the inappropriate dress code that Grossi allegedly required of his young female telemarketers. It is alleged that at the company's business premises in Fairfield, all of the telemarketers are teenage girls.
Telemarketers working for PJG and Grossi were allegedly given a script that claimed to provide free mammograms and diagnostic tests to women who could not afford them. The script allegedly requested that the telemarketer ask for donations of between $35 and $200.
Grossi and PJG allegedly use a "boiler room" setting and employ teenage telemarketers to solicit consumers in New Jersey and elsewhere. In the phone calls to consumers, the telemarketers claim they represent charities with missions to aid police officers, veterans, missing children and cancer patients, Chiesa says.
In addition, Grossi allegedly maintains post office boxes in New Jersey in the names of several charities. PJG and Grossi allegedly have access to funds donated to the charities. Grossi, PJG and the purported charities allegedly failed to register in New Jersey as is necessary under state law and consumers in the state have no way of verifying whether donations made through PJG really reach the charities or to verify how the charities spend the money they receive.
"When consumers open their hearts and wallets to what they think is a good cause, especially in difficult economic times, they need to know exactly how their money will be used, and how much of their donation will actually help people in need," Chiesa said. "When so-called charities and their fundraisers violate our transparency laws, they violate the trust of donors."