Consumer fraud lawsuit alleged deceptive mailings targeted elderly and vulnerable Iowans
DES MOINES – The owner of three companies behind fraudulent direct mailings claiming guaranteed ways to beat lotteries, slot machines and other forms of gambling, will cease targeting Iowa consumers, issue refunds to Iowans, and pay the state $5,000.
Nicholas H. Valenti, of Carson City, Nevada, and three of his companies, WB Co., TL Distribution, and Southwest Publishing agreed to the terms, through a consent judgment approved Wednesday by Polk County District Court Judge David May, to resolve a consumer fraud lawsuit filed in September.
The lawsuit alleged the defendants sent deceptive mailings to Iowans promising to reveal – for a price – methods for consistently winning large sums of money. The lawsuit also alleged that Valenti sells the rights to use his deceptive mailings to other would-be scammers.
“These are what you might call ‘beat the lottery’ and ‘beat the house’ schemes that prey upon vulnerable and desperate people,” Miller said. “We’re trying to stop operations like this from targeting Iowans, and we’re also trying to stop them from sharing lists that lead to feeding frenzies when an Iowan responds to just one solicitation.”
In 2015 The Consumer Protection Division investigated a collection of more than 150 scam mailings received by an elderly Eastern Iowa woman who had been victimized by other schemes targeting elderly consumers.
Investigators traced four of those solicitations to WB, which had sold them to two New Jersey-based scammers. The mailings included “How to Beat Lotteries and Slots” and “Jackpot Winner System.” The solicitations, which sought fees of up to hundreds of dollars, falsely claimed guaranteed risk-free success in playing games of chance.
In April, the New Jersey scammers agreed to refund more than $4,600 to 81 Iowans who responded to WB mailings.
The consent judgment bars Valenti and his companies from participating in deceptive and misleading solicitations to Iowans, and selling or sharing mailing lists with others. The $5,000 payment will be used for any additional refunds, and future consumer fraud investigations and litigation.
For more information or to file a complaint, contact the Consumer Protection Division through the Attorney General’s website at www.IowaAttorneyGeneral.gov or email directly to firstname.lastname@example.org. Consumers can also call the Consumer Protection Division at 515-281-5926, or outside the Des Moines area, toll free, at 1-888-777-4590.