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May 8, 2009

"Get-Rich-Quick" Scheme Banned from Iowa

A.G. Tom Miller: “The so-called World Wealth Syndicate out of New York City preyed on Iowans – and it used a wholesome-looking Iowa address to deceive consumers nationwide.”

Des Moines. A New York City promoter who claimed customers could make $25,000 in two weeks and touted other get-rich-quick schemes was ordered Friday not to operate in Iowa and to make a refund to any Iowan who asks for it.

“What caught our eye was that the so-called World Wealth Syndicate was using a Beaver Avenue address in Des Moines to market its deceptive schemes all over the country,” said Attorney General Tom Miller.

“It was nothing but a mail drop-box,” Miller said, “but the Des Moines address might wrongly induce some consumers to think the operation was firmly planted in the heartland, and to let down their guard.”

Polk County District Court Judge D.J. Stovall entered an order Friday permanently prohibiting Christopher Lamparello of New York, NY, from marketing any of his programs in Iowa, and from using an Iowa mailing address or implying any connection to Iowa that does not exist. Lamparello operated as “World Wealth Syndicate,” “Publishing Company, Inc.,” and “Pridemore Publishing Company, Inc.”

Judge Stovall also ordered Lamparello to make full refunds to any Iowa customer who requested one in writing to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division, Hoover Bldg., 1305 East Walnut St., Des Moines, IA 50319. (Call 515-281-5926, or 888-777-4590.)

The get-rich-quick programs usually sold for about $25-30. They were marketed under names such as “Big Cash Flier,” “How I made $99 an Hour,” “God Wants You to Be Rich,” and “$1,000 a Day!” Miller said his office is aware of more than 150 Iowans who ordered Lamparello’s programs.

“The so-called money-making opportunities didn’t cost a huge amount, but they didn’t hold a prayer of success either,” Miller said. “They probably preyed on people who were least likely to afford any loss -- people who are desperate and vulnerable in tough economic times.”

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More background and detail:

The Des Moines drop-box address is Box 301, 2643 Beaver Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa 50310 (a UPS Store in the Beaverdale shopping district.) Lamparello directed that mail received at the drop box should be forwarded immediately to his New York City location.

Judge Stovall’s order Friday was contained in a Consent Judgment entered at Polk County District Court. The order resolved a lawsuit also filed Friday by the Attorney General’s Office.

The lawsuit discusses a couple of the marketing ads Lamparello directed at Iowans and others around the country from “World Wealth Syndicate” using the 2643 Beaver Ave. address.

One ad was “Crazy Cousin Elmer’s Big Cash Flier,” including the purported claim: “Yep, I raked in over $25,000 in just two weeks! And I practically sat on my butt the whole time!” In a sworn written response to the AG’s investigation questions, Lamparello admitted “Elmer” was a “pen name,” the photo of “Elmer” was a stock photo, and Lamparello had no substantiation for the ambitious claims he made for success his purchasers could expect.

Another ad was for the “Big Bucks!” system, including the claim: “I mailed the special envelope. . . . and a check for $5,298.02 showed up in my mailbox about sixteen days later!”

The state lawsuit alleged numerous violations of Iowa’s Consumer Fraud Act.


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