The Federal Trade Commission has amended its court-filed complaint against PFR, Inc., d/b/a PFR and Awards Center, and its president, Joseph M. Mantashigian, by adding charges against Sherri L. Pollock. The complaint alleges that the defendants were engaged in a fraudulent prize-promotion recovery room/ telefunding scheme to induce elderly consumers, who had previously lost money to fraudulent telemarketers, to make purportedly tax-deductible donations of $1,000 or more.
The FTC filed its complaint against PFR in federal court in Las Vegas, Nevada, in January 1995. At that time, the court issued a temporary restraining order halting the misrepresenta- tions and freezing PFR's and Mantashigian's assets. In February, PFR, Mantagshigian and the Commission stipulated to a preliminary injunction continuing the injunctions and asset freeze.
According to the FTC's complaint, the defendants, through their sales personnel, made unsolicited calls to consumers to whom previous prize-telemarketers had promised substantial valuable prizes -- such as $50,000 or more in cash -- that were never delivered. The defendants told the consumers that they were holding the very prizes that had been promised to them earlier, and that they would deliver those prizes to the consumers in return for a tax-deductible donation to Mission Foundation, the charity designated by the defendants. The defendants also claimed that the value of the prize to be awarded greatly exceeded the amount of the donation to be given by the consumer, the FTC alleged.
The Commission charged that in the course of their business, PFR, Mantashigian and Pollack misrepresented that:
- they were holding the very prizes that had previously been promised to consumers by other deceptive telemarketers;
- consumers would receive valuable prizes in return for donations to a charity named Mission Foundation; and
- more -
- the donations to Mission Foundation were tax- deductible.
The Commission vote to file the amended complaint was 4-0. The amended complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada, in Las Vegas, on April 28.
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Las Vegas, the Las Vegas office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Nevada Attorney General's Telemarketing Unit provided substantial assistance to the FTC in this matter. The matter is being handled by the FTC's San Francisco Regional Office and the FTC's Division of Service Industry Practices.
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 defendants have actually violated the law. The case will be decided by the court.
The FTC has issued consumer brochures on "Charitable Giving," "Prize Offers," and "Telemarketing: Reloading & Double Scamming Frauds," which are available for free. Copies of these brochures and the amended complaint, as well as other documents associated with this case, are available from the FTC's Public Reference Branch, Room 130, 6th Street & Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580.
(FTC File No.: PFR, Inc. 952-3024; Civil Action No. CV-S-95-74- PMP (LRL))