T Debbie C. Taylor, a defendant in the Federal Trade Commissionþs case against an allegedly fraudulent sweepstakes- entry club has agreed to settle federal charges stemming from her role in misrepresenting the likely benefits of joining the many sweepstakes-entry clubs operated by the defendants. The settlement prohibits Taylor from misrepresenting promotions, products, or services, or the likelihood that a consumer will receive a valuable prize if they participate in a promotion. In addition, Taylor has agreed to pay $350,000 in consumer redress.
In March of this year, the FTC filed charges in federal court in Baltimore, alleging that Taylor and two others, through the Reisterstown, Maryland-based Research Awards Center, Inc., Quality Marketing, Inc., and Financial Research Group, Inc., sold memberships in their sweepstakes-entry club by promising to enter members into independent sweepstakes. The FTC alleged that, in many instances, members did not receive the "entry" services they paid for. The FTC asked the court permanently to prohibit the defendants from continuing the alleged deceptive practices, appoint a receiver to take charge of the companies, and freeze the defendants' assets to preserve funds for consumer redress.
The settlement of the charges against Taylor, which required the courtþs approval to become binding, prohibits Taylor in the future from making any misrepresentation about any promotion, product or service. In addition, she is prohibited from making any representations about the likelihood that a consumer would win a significant amount of cash or a valuable product or item if they participate in the promotion.
Taylor also has agreed to pay $350,000 to be used for consumer redress. If the Commission determines that redress is impracticable, the money will be deposited in the U.S. Treasury.
The FTC filed the proposed settlement in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Northern Division, in Baltimore. The judge approved the settlement on July 21. The Commission vote authorizing the filing of the proposed settlement was 5-0.
NOTE: The stipulated final order is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute admission by the defendant of a law violation. The order has the force of law when signed by the judge.
Copies of the stipulated final order, as well as other documents associated with this case are available from the FTC's Public Reference Branch, Room 130, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; TTY for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest FTC news as it is announced, call the FTCþs NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710. FTC news releases and other materials are also available on the Internet at the FTCþs World Wide Web site at: http://www.ftc.gov
(Civil Action No. 95-S-636)
(FTC File No.: x950033)