Consumer News Release
For immediate release - Friday, June 10, 2005.
Contact Bob Brammer - 515-281-6699.
Company that Claimed to Sell "Winning" Lottery Numbers Must Make Consumer Refunds
"Multi-Plays of America" must make refunds to any consumer who requests one.
DES MOINES. A Buffalo, NY, company that claims to sell booklets of "winning" lottery numbers must make full refunds to any Iowa consumer who requests a refund -- and the company has been permanently prohibited from selling any goods or services in Iowa.
Multi-Plays of America, Inc., makes phone pitches that they "are producing winning numbers in different lotteries across the country every month." According to a telephone script, Multi-Plays tells consumers, "We cycle in our scientific formula, and that gives us the most likely winning combinations." Multi-Plays electronically debited consumer bank accounts in amounts ranging from $39.95 for a one week 'trial offer' to $149 per month or $298 quarterly.
"We allege that Multi-Plays violated Iowa's Consumer Fraud Act," said Attorney General Tom Miller. "We looked into it after receiving several complaints, and we believe the operation tended to victimize older Iowans."
Polk County Dist. Court Judge Eliza Ovrom issued a Consent Judgment and order Thursday that:
- Permanently prohibits Multi-Plays from selling goods or services to any Iowan
- Orders Multi-Plays to make a full refund to any Iowan who requests it.
- Orders Multi-Plays to pay $3,000 to the state consumer fund for protecting older Iowans.
- Prohibits Multi-Plays from selling or renting names, addresses and phone numbers of any Iowa consumers.
Miller urged consumers who desire a refund to write to the Consumer Protection Division, Hoover Bldg., Des Moines, Iowa 50319, or to call 515-281-5926 or 888-777-4590 (toll-free.) Miller's office also will directly contact known Iowa Multi-Plays customers.
"Lottery drawings are random and there really is no way to predict which numbers will be drawn," said Iowa Lottery CEO Ed Stanek. "You can use your own creativity to come up with lots of ways to pick your numbers -- there is no need to pay for advice!"
Background and more detail:
The Consumer Protection Division filed a consumer fraud lawsuit Thursday, and Judge Ovrom entered the Consent Judgment with terms agreed-to by the defendants, including the order to make refunds and not to do business in Iowa. Defendants named in the suit are Multi-Plays of America, Inc., also doing business as M.P. Publishing, and Michael J. Geiger and Michael Marranca, each 50% owners of Multi-Plays.
Multi-Plays printed material and its web site, www.multiplays.com, list a business address at 450 Niagara Falls Blvd., Buffalo NY 14223, and a telephone number of 1-888-252-0877.
The Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division investigation was sparked by several complaints. Two complaints were filed by adult children regarding elderly parents who had been billed. Two complaints came from older Iowans who said they had agreed to a one-time $39.95 "trial-offer" payment, but then had been billed $149 or $298 (in one case leading to bank over-drawn charges as well.) Another complainant said she had not ordered anything and "the first I knew of this" was when she spotted bank account debits totaling $298.
Debits were made electronically from consumers' bank accounts.
Refunds were obtained for consumers who complained to the Attorney General, but the Consumer Protection Division continued to look into the situation.
The booklets consumers would receive for their payment included a wallet-card with five numbers listed for Iowa Cash Game, three for Pick 3, and 3 for Midday Pick 3.
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