Cuomo targets Florida marketing company

By Keith Loria | Jul 17, 2009


SYRACUSE, N.Y. (Legal Newsline) - New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday that his office is filing charges against a Florida-based marketing company over an alleged deceptive promotion offering free gas.

The suit claims that Tidewater Marketing Global Consultants, Inc., headquartered in Clearwater, Fla., and President Crystal M. Clark, repeatedly deceived consumers through a promotional free gas gift card program in order to generate business for several New York-based companies.

"This company chose to disregard important consumer protections that exist in New York and instead engage in a deliberately deceptive scheme," Cuomo said.

"Consumers who thought they were taking part in a free promotion instead ended up shelling out hundreds of dollars in order to get their 'free gas.'"

An investigation into the company began earlier this year after Cuomo put a stop to similar allegedly deceptive promotions being run by Tidewater at a Skaneateles auto dealership.

Cuomo said that since at least February of 2008, Tidewater Marketing (which also does business as Free Gas Central, Freegasredemption.com, FreeBeeGas.com, and FreeBieGas.com), touted itself as a redemption center for various marketing programs, including gas gift card programs on behalf of various businesses across the country, which offered gasoline certificates to customers as marketing tools.

In reality, he said, many consumers never received the gas cards despite repeated inquiries to the company and the rebate program also had unreasonable conditions that were nearly impossible to meet.

For example, for a consumer to fully redeem a $500 gasoline redemption certificate through Tidewater, a consumer would have to spend at least $2,000 at a local gas station over the course of 20 months in order to fully redeem a $500 gasoline redemption certificate through Tidewater, Cuomo said.

The attorney general's lawsuit seeks to bar Tidewater from operating in New York State, restitution for wronged consumers, and penalties and costs to the state.

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