The Federal Trade Commission has halted the operation of three Canadian telemarketing companies and five individuals who illegally market foreign lottery tickets to U.S. citizens. Buying and selling foreign lottery tickets is illegal in the United States. At the request of the FTC, a U.S. district court has temporarily barred the telemarketing and has ordered any U.S. assets to be frozen. The FTC will ask the court to permanently bar the illegal activity and to order restitution for consumers who were victims.
According to the FTC charges, the telemarketers targeted elderly consumers, inducing them to buy shares in a Canadian lottery ticket or series of tickets at prices ranging from $39 to almost $600. The telemarketers allegedly told consumers that their chances of winning the lottery were very good and related stories of U.S. consumers who played through their firm and won. The telemarketers allegedly told consumers that they were sponsored by, affiliated with or registered with the Canadian government to sell the lottery tickets.
The FTC charged that the telemarketers falsely claimed that it's legal to buy and sell foreign lottery tickets, in violation of the FTC Act. In addition, the Telemarketing Sales Rule requires that telemarketers disclose all material restrictions, limitations or conditions prior to collecting money for goods or services. It also bars false or misleading statements. The FTC alleges that since the defendants failed to disclose to consumers that the sale of, and trafficking in foreign lotteries is a crime in the United States, and that the defendants made false statements to induce consumers to buy the tickets, they also violated the FTC's Telemarketing Sales Rule.
The agency has asked the court for a permanent bar on the illegal activity and will seek restitution for consumers. The companies named in the FTC suit are Toronto-based Growth Plus International Marketing, Inc., also d/b/a Growth Potential International, GPI, and GPIM; Gains International Marketing, Inc., also d/b/a Gains Wealth International; and Ploto Computer Services, Inc. The individuals named by the FTC are Victor Thiruchelvam, Jessie Nadarajah, Kandan Nadarajah, Arudchelvam Nagamuthu and Julie Turgeon.
The Commission vote the file the complaint was 5-0.
NOTE: The Commission files a complaint when it has "reason to believe" that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. The complaint is not a finding or ruling that the defendant has actually violated the law. The case will be decided by the court.
Copies of the complaint are available from the FTC's web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC's Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them. To file a complaint, or to get free information on any of 150 consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357), or use the online complaint form. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies worldwide.
Claudia Bourne Farrell
Office of Public Affairs
C. Steven Baker
Midwest Regional Office
(FTC File No. 002-3168)
(Civil Action No.: 0007886)