Bryan Cohen Nov. 19, 2012, 4:43pm

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Legal Newsline) - Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper announced on Wednesday that approximately 5,500 consumers inside and outside Tennessee will be eligible for refunds as part of an agreement with an East Tennessee telemarketing group.

Mountain Area Communications LLC, American Publisher's Service LLC, G.H. McDonald, Christopher M. McDonald, Zachary F. Haverland, Eric N. McDonald and Shawna R. McDonald allegedly engaged in deceptive business practices by running boiler room-style operations and using coercive tactics to sell long-term magazine subscriptions.

Under the terms of the agreement, the defendants will provide an estimated $1 million to consumers harmed by the allegedly deceptive business practices.

The defendants allegedly took in a combined $20 million in deceptive gains from consumers throughout the U.S. The defendants agreed that the money generated was ill-gotten but denied liability under the terms of the agreement.

"We are pleased to be able to provide these consumers with some relief as a result of the court's decision," Cooper said. "Our law enforcement action was commenced not just due to few complaints but thousands of similar accounts from people, some of whom were on the Do Not Call Registry, who said they were verbally harassed and deceived by telemarketers."

Cooper filed suit against the East Tennessee telemarketing firms and their operators earlier this year on behalf of the Consumer Affairs Division of the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance. He alleged that the companies violated state consumer protection laws and the federal telemarketing law.

Consumers have until Feb. 11 to file a complaint with the Division of Consumer Affairs to receive restitution.

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