Sweeps Operator to Pay $350,000 in Florida Settlement

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A sweepstakes operator accused of telling consumers that buying products would improve their chances to win a $25,000 grand prize has agreed to pay $350,000 to settle charges with the Florida attorney general's office.

SETA Corp., Boca Raton, FL, also agreed to alter its marketing practices as part of the settlement, which was announced this week. According to the complaint, SETA used deceptions to persuade consumers to buy its jewelry products, in some cases causing consumers to buy thousands of dollars worth of merchandise.

The company admitted to no wrongdoing as part of the settlement. However, SETA agreed to cease marketing practices that led to the state's investigation and to remove from its mailing list any consumer who makes more than 10 purchases a year totaling more than $500.

According to the complaint, the practices the attorney general's office found objectionable included: proclamations on mail pieces stating that consumers had already won; use of supposed "publicity releases" and phony deadlines; stating that the purchase of merchandise was one of four steps for entering; and the use of disclaimers in small type.

SETA will pay $100,000 to reimburse consumers and $250,000 to cover the state's investigation costs. The restitution money will be shared among 112 consumers who filed formal complaints against SETA with the attorney general and anyone else who has bought merchandise from the company and files a request to obtain reimbursement within the next two years.

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