Iowa AG announces court order against Arizona fundraiser

By Bryan Cohen | May 28, 2013

DES MOINES, Iowa (Legal Newsline) - Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller announced a court order that will stop an Arizona company from making telephone sales pitches to Iowans after it allegedly made false claims about helping disabled workers.

District Court Judge Rebecca Ebinger issued the order on Thursday against the Peoria, Ariz.-based Fresh Start Handicapped Workers Inc. and Paul and Martha Giza, the company's owners, to stop the company from making solicitations in Iowa that involve implied or express representations that donations or sales will benefit the disadvantaged, disabled or handicapped.

Miller alleged that Fresh Start made false claims that 85 percent of each purchase goes to the handicapped, that it has offices all over the U.S., that sales calls are made only once a year and that the caller will not get paid if the recipient does not send money. Miller said the company's initial response to a fact-finding subpoena raised suspicions.

"It's a bad sign when an organization supposedly focused on helping disabled workers responds to a subpoena by explaining that one of its telemarketers is 'skitsofrantic,'" Miller said. "A response like that is a bright red flag."

Under the terms of the consent judgment, Fresh Start must stop making future solicitations in Iowa, pay $10,000 to a state consumer protection enforcement fund and make refunds to Iowans who request them.

"This is the latest example of why telemarketers with deceptive pitches should steer clear of Iowa," Miller said. "Their next call may be to our undercover line, putting them on the wrong end of a consumer fraud lawsuit."

As part of the agreement, the defendants denied any wrongdoing.

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