Canada Charges Prize Mailers With Deception

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The Canadian Competition Bureau filed charges against two Toronto-based corporations accused of making deceptive statements in a prize contest mail campaign, the bureau said yesterday.

HMS Direct Limited and Hallstone Products Ltd. sent unsolicited mailings to consumers that led them to believe they could obtain a prize if they returned a $14.95 to $29.95 "processing fee," the bureau said. Consumers in 91 countries, excluding Canada, complained about the mailings, which were marketed under the name "Canadian Equity Funding," the bureau said.

The mailings promised that consumers would receive up to $5,000 or 3,000 pounds sterling, the bureau said. But consumers received a predetermined prize item, usually an inexpensive piece of jewelry, according to the charges.

In summer 2002, the bureau filed charges against the same two companies involving mailings that promoted the purchase of lottery tickets, the bureau said.

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