MADISON, Wis. (Legal Newsline) - Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced a $500,000 settlement Tuesday with a Texas-based dating membership company and its Wisconsin affiliate to resolve allegations they misled consumers.
JRM Management LLC, formerly known as Meriggi Management LLC, John Meriggi, the company's owner, and GE-Milwaukee LLC, doing business as Great Expectations Milwaukee, allegedly committed multiple violations of Wisconsin's consumer protection laws related to deceptive marketing practices, dating service contracts and credit transactions.
Great Expectations used websites that appeared to connect singles in certain Milwaukee-area communities, but consumers who completed online surveys were allegedly contacted by Great Expectations telemarketers. The telemarketers allegedly overstated the number of Great Expectations participating members, misrepresented that Great Expectations screens out prospective members with criminal histories and misrepresented the purpose for obtaining credit information, among other allegations.
Some of Great Expectations' dating service contracts also allegedly violated state law by exceeding the maximum of a two-year duration.
"This judgment offers relief to Wisconsin consumers, but importantly, it also sends a message to other businesses that they will be held accountable if they mislead Wisconsin consumers," Van Hollen said. "Business practices in violation of Wisconsin laws not only harm consumers but are also unfair to law-abiding competitors."
Under the terms of a consent judgment, GE-Milwaukee LLC and JRM Enterprises LLC must pay $500,000 to the state, $50,000 of which will be assessed as penalties, forfeitures and assessments. The remaining $450,000 will be used for restitution, court costs and attorney fees. The agreement also provides injunctive relief that requires compliance with the state's consumer protection laws and the attempted removal of all negative credit reporting.