Missouri attorney general Jay Nixon has begun a new round of legal actions against 27 companies believed to have sent deceptive direct mail pieces to Missouri.
The 27 cease-and-desist orders are a result of Senior Sting, a project Mr. Nixon launched last year to stop fraud by mail with the help of hundreds of senior volunteers.
In Senior Sting 2006, more than 300 Missouri seniors volunteered to keep all of their direct mail received during one month, and then sent it to the AG’s office. More than 8,000 pieces of mail were collected during the program, and Mr. Nixon said investigations continue into more than 20 additional companies that sent suspicious-looking mail collected during Senior Sting.
“Clearly these companies have Missouri seniors in their sights,” Mr. Nixon said in a statement. “In Senior Sting, our volunteers turned the tables on the scam artists, resulting in the nearly 300 legal actions my office has taken so far to stop fraudulent mailings.”
Many of the companies receiving cease and desist orders were from Canada and the Netherlands. Two companies were based in Australia. The U.S.-based companies included AEZ Global Marketing, (New York) Advance Promotions Cash Prize Headquarters (New York) Card Benefits Services (Georgia), Cash Prize Headquarters (New York), DMI (Texas), National Magazine Exchange (Florida), Office of Disbursement Documents (Nevada), Payment Access Services, Ltd. (Nevada) Prize America (New York) and World Wide Award Group (New York)
Mr. Nixon said these companies were involved in fraudulent sweepstakes and foreign lotteries. The orders require the companies to immediately cease violations of Missouri consumer protection laws, which includes making sure future solicitations in Missouri are not fraudulent or deceptive.
Violations of the order may result in felony criminal charges.
In September, Mr. Nixon announced 248 legal actions against companies snared in the first round of crackdowns from Senior Sting. Those companies included pyramid scheme operators, foreign lottery scams and charity solicitors who were not registered with the attorney general as required by Missouri law.
“We conducted Senior Sting because we believe many con artists have gone ‘old-school,’ returning to the mail,” Mr. Nixon said in the statement. “The success of our no-call program has cut down on telemarketing fraud, and consumers are suspicious of spam, so the crooks have gone back to the mail.”