FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, August 30, 2011
Judge Bars Arizona “Disabilities”
Fundraiser from Targeting Iowans
(DES MOINES, Iowa) A Polk County judge has barred an Arizona company from all future telemarketing and mail solicitations in Iowa, after Attorney General Tom Miller sued the company in June, accusing it of using “blatant lies” about disabilities to elicit funds from Iowans.
District Court Judge Brad McCall, through a consent judgment filed this month in Polk County District Court, ordered Americans With Disabilities, LLC, a Phoenix, Arizona for-profit company, and its owner, Dale R. Sieck, from future telephone and mail solicitations directed to Iowa consumers. The judge ordered the company to pay a $2,000 penalty to a state elderly victim fund, for the investigation and prosecution of frauds against older Iowans. Today District Court Judge Artis Reis, also through a consent judgment, barred telephone solicitor Jeffrey A. Balke, who solicited on behalf of the company, from future telephone and mail solicitations directed to Iowa consumers.
On June 3, Miller filed a lawsuit against Americans With Disabilities, after the Consumer Protection Division recorded Balke’s telephone call on an undercover phone line. Balke sought money on behalf of Americans With Disabilities by falsely claiming that he was blind and seeking a guide dog, that he served in the Vietnam War and was exposed to Agent Orange, that his daughter recently died of cystic fibrosis, and that he is a native Iowan. A Consumer Protection Division investigation determined that none of these claims by Balke were true.
Americans With Disabilities, LLC, a for-profit company and not a charitable organization, sells products by phone, including $45 tins of cookies, and purports to use its profits to help disabled people. A company product insert stated that it makes “a special effort to enable handicapped or otherwise disadvantaged workers” by paying “a great percentage” of sales proceeds to workers who “have had trouble in obtaining employment in the mainstream workforce.”
Miller reminds Iowans to give, but to give wisely by being aware of charity fraud. His advice includes being leery of a sympathetic name or sales pitch, asking specific questions about how the organization spends its money, and requesting written information. For more information about avoiding charity fraud, see the Attorney General’s “Donor Beware!” charity fraud consumer advisory, at www.IowaAttorneyGeneral.gov.
There are many excellent charities soliciting contributions in Iowa, and the Attorney General's Office is eager to stop fundraising abuses and uphold the integrity of our system of giving.
If you think you may have been cheated by a fundraising scheme, contact the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division through the Attorney General’s website. You can also call us at 515-281-5926, or toll-free at 888-777-4590. Or write the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division, Hoover Building, Des Moines, Iowa 50319.