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February 7, 2017

New Jersey List Broker Barred from Selling Names of Defrauded Elderly Iowans to Con Artists, Pays State $40,000

Miller alleges Saavoy List Management Inc. supplied scammers with “sucker lists” that included vulnerable Iowa residents

DES MOINES – A Fairfield, New Jersey customer list broker late last week completed a $40,000 payment to the state and will remove Iowans from customer lead lists tied to sweepstakes and psychic scams, through an agreement with Attorney General Tom Miller.

The agreement reached in December with Saavoy List Management Inc., called an assurance of voluntary compliance, requires the company to carefully monitor its lead lists. If Iowans appear on a lead list, Saavoy must ensure that no fraud was involved in creating the list, and that no fraud would be committed by anyone using the list. The company’s only alternative, according to Miller, is to remove all Iowa residents.

“We allege that Saavoy was trading in so-called ‘sucker lists,’ renting out the names of fraud victims to scammers,” Miller said, noting that customer lists associated with psychics and sweepstakes are frequently abused. “This sort of cynical conduct results in feeding frenzies, as a host of con artists descends upon each susceptible person on the list.”

The agreement is related to a December 13 settlement with Waverly Direct Inc. and its owner, Gordon Shearer.

“Waverly Direct used psychic- and prize-related mailings to create lists of vulnerable older Iowans, and coordinated with Saavoy to rent the lists out to a variety of dubious operations,” Miller said. “Now both companies must steer clear of Iowa with these schemes.”

In addition to barring Saavoy from including Iowans on lead lists involving sweepstakes or psychics, the agreement required the company to pay $40,000 to support future efforts to protect older Iowans from consumer fraud.

Miller urges Iowans to be vigilant in protecting elderly Iowans from this form of fraud.  “We’ve seen a number of older Iowans hit by a barrage of bogus mail solicitations after responding to just one or two,” Miller said. “Stopping operations like these from targeting Iowans will mean fewer victims, but the best protection is for older Iowans—and their families and friends—to be on guard and not let their savings be drained by a flurry of scam mailings.”

TIPS FOR CONSUMERS

  • Sweepstakes and similar jackpot-oriented schemes are commonly used to generate excitement and get people to spend money chasing a prize that never comes. Don’t be taken in!
  • Personalized letters from supposed psychics or the like promise wealth and well-being, but sending them a check will probably put you on a “sucker list” that makes you a target for a host of scammers. Don’t take the bait!
  • These “feeding frenzies” through the mails can quietly victimize older relatives, neighbors, or friends. Be on guard, and report such incidents to the Consumer Protection Division.

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 consumer@ag.iowa.gov.  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.

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