Led by Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, and Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, 46 Attorneys General obtained a $1.25 multistate settlement with Carnival Cruise Line stemming from a 2019 data breach.
Led by Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford and Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares a bipartisan group of 23 attorneys general called on Congress to address illegal cannabis edibles packaged to look like major brands. In the letter the attorneys general urge Congress to immediately enact legislation authorizing trademark holders of well-known and trusted consumer packaged goods to hold accountable those malicious actors who are marketing illicit copycat THC edibles to children.
Led by Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson, and Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a bipartisan group of 31 attorneys general called on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate non-tobacco nicotine (NTN) products. The letter further urges the FDA not to authorize the marketing of any NTN products unless they are appropriate for the protection of public health as required by section 910 of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.
Led by Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, and Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III, a bipartisan coalition of 41 attorneys general wrote the Federal Communications Commission, commending the agency its leadership in combatting illegal robocalls and pledging their commitment to work collaboratively via information-sharing agreements.
Led by New York Attorney General Letitia James, 22 attorneys general wrote the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Food and Drug Administration, demanding swift federal action to protect children from toxic metals in baby foods. The letter urges the FDA to adopt interim measures recommended in Attorney General James’ and the coalition’s October 2021 petition, after the FDA failed to propose action levels for lead in various baby foods by April 2022 as expected under the agency’s “Closer to Zero” plan announced in April 2021.
Individual Attorney General Actions
Alaska Attorney General Treg Taylor sued operators of an allegedly fraudulent timeshare exit scheme that used a deceptive direct mail campaign that lured consumers to attend a sales presentation in exchange for a $250 shopping card. The defendants, including seven corporations and eight individuals, allegedly told consumers that the only way to exit their timeshare contracts was to pay for the defendants’ services. The lawsuit states that, so far, the Department of Law has identified nine Alaskan consumers who paid the defendants a total of $113,521.85
Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser called on the U.S. Department of Education to cancel the debt of thousands of CollegeAmerica and Independence University students. Colorado filed a group borrower defense to repayment application urging the department to cancel the loans of students who qualify and return money that former students paid on those loans due to the schools’ alleged misrepresentations regarding employment placement rates, post graduate earnings potential, and the affordability and benefits of obtaining a private educational loan through the schools. The attorney general’s office obtained a judgment against the schools for consumer protection violations that was set aside by the court of appeals and the state is seeking review from the Colorado Supreme Court.
Connecticut Attorney General William Tong sued Reynolds Consumer Products for allegedly falsely and deceptively marketing Hefty “Recycling Bags,” which it allegedly knew were incompatible with recycling facilities in Connecticut. Reynolds allegedly advertises that their Hefty “Recycling Bags” are “perfect for all of your recycling needs” and “designed to handle all types of recyclables.” However, the bags are not compatible with Connecticut facilities’ equipment and as a result the bags and their contents are thrown in the trash, contrary to consumers’ wishes.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody announced a jury convicted a pool contractor on multiple felony charges for operating a multimillion-dollar pool contracting scheme. Amore’ Pools Inc. owner Brian Washburn had been charged with defrauding more than 150 Florida homeowners out of nearly $3 million, often leaving dangerous debris piles and gaping holes in victims’ backyards instead of performing the promised work.
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey secured more than $900,000 for consumers from an auto title lending company, resolving allegations that it engaged in illegal auto lending practices. NH Title Group, Inc. f/k/a/ Massachusetts Title Loan, Inc., and Capital Title Loan allegedly made loans with exorbitant interest rates, pursued debts with excessive phone calls and emails, and threatened repossession of cars.
New Jersey Acting Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin announced action against a cosmetology and hair styling school, Capri Institute, for failing to meet curriculum requirements for licensure and allegedly engaging in substandard business practices that financially harmed students. The allegations stem from an investigation launched after the school abruptly closed in December 2021 with less than 48 hours prior notice to its roughly 250 enrolled students. The school refused to provide students refunds or transcripts, making it virtually impossible for them to transfer to another school.
New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas announced a senior scam alert system. The new system will combine scam complaint information with the state’s aging & long-term service agency’s statewide alert system technology to allow the agencies to quickly and effectively spread news about new and evolving scams in the hopes that seniors, family, and caretakers can better protect themselves.
North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley issued a consumer alert about several scams that attempt to take advantage of North Dakotans’ “natural tendency to be cooperative.” Titled: Scam Artists Exploiting “North Dakota Nice,” the alert warns of government impostor scams and tech support scams and urges consumers to not cooperate but instead to hang up, ignore the calls entirely, or call the attorney general’s consumer protection division before taking any action.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost sued a gaming parts supplier who allegedly didn’t deliver. OG10kTech and its owner William D. Taylor, Sr. allegedly failed to provide personal computers and hard-to-find computer parts used mainly for gaming or for mining cryptocurrency of a value estimated at more than $100,000.
Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor announced recovery of more than $250 million through a settlement with three opioid distributors, McKesson, Cardinal, and AmerisourceBergen. The settlement brings the state’s overall recovery from opioid related cases to more than $680 million.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro obtained a $185,900 settlement with Indra Energy to stop telemarketing violations. The settlement claims that Indra Energy, through its vendors, violated telemarketing laws by: repeatedly calling numbers registered on the Do-Not-Call list, delivering pre-recorded messages to numbers on the Do-Not-Call list, failing to obtain an “express request” from consumers on the Do-Not-Call list prior to calling them, using misleading offers regarding energy savings and rebates, and engaging in deceptive practices in connection with requests to be contacted for purposes of telemarketing solicitations.
In recognition of Internet Safety Month, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes published internet safety tips and resources. The resources include materials to help parents start a conversation with teens about screen time and protect children from cyberbullying and online exploitation.
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson obtained $500,000 from Seattle-based US Stemology and its owner, Dr. Tami Meraglia. The settlement resolves the state’s allegations that the defendants made deceptive claims that its stem cell injections could treat COVID-19 and dozens of other serious medical conditions, including asthma, lupus, Parkinson’s disease, congestive heart failure and multiple sclerosis. The $500,000 is available to provide restitution to more than 100 affected consumers.
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced a $500,000 consent judgment against California debt settlement attorney Thomas A. Moore and his closely held corporation, Moore Legal Center. Defendants allegedly advertised to consumers that they could settle consumers’ debt for less than what was owed but most consumers never had their debts settled even though they paid hundreds, sometimes thousands, in fees.
Other Items of Interest
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich announced the sentencing of the former President of a Tucson National Guard non-profit for embezzlement. Amy Lyn O’Neill of Tucson has been sentenced to 4 years of probation with 30 days in jail for embezzling $84,444.45 in funds from the Jimmy Jet Foundation, a nonprofit organization serving the Arizona National Guard’s 162nd Fighter Wing.
Veterans and Servicemembers
Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares’s office teamed up with the Virginia Department of Veterans Services and the Virginia State Bar to provide free estate planning services for low-income veterans, their spouses, and widows. Services include basic wills, power of attorney, and advanced medical directives.
Other articles in this edition include:
- Survey of Recent Challenges to Federal Agencies’ Enforcement Powers and Potential Impacts on Consumer Protection
- Consumer Chief of the Month
- Federal Consumer Protection News: June 2022