Company Required Consumers to Pay Fees to Be Eligible for Fictitious Awards
BALTIMORE (April 30, 2011) - Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler announced Friday that his Consumer Protection Division has entered into an agreement with a Florida company, Synchronicity, LLC and its owner/manager Michael J. Connors. Under the terms of the Assurance of Discontinuance, the company and its owner must stop making misleading offers of prizes and other awards to Maryland consumers, using a Maryland post office box, requiring payment of any fee to receive a prize, or misrepresenting their sponsorship, such as by a government agency. They must also refund $108,604 in fees they charged Maryland consumers plus fees to out-of-state consumers who file complaints within the next six months. Synchronicity, LLC and its manager also agreed to pay $30,000 for the Divisions costs of investigation and a civil penalty of $25,000, which increases to $100,000 if the company or its owner violates the terms of the Assurance of Discontinuance.
It is illegal in Maryland to require fees in order to claim a prize said Attorney General Gansler. Unfortunately, Synchronicity relied on consumers good will and trust in others to prey on their hopes and dreams. Consumers should never respond to a company that offers big prizes, but requires payment of a fee to claim any winnings.
The Consumer Protection Division charged Synchronicity, LLC and the companys owner/manager, Michael J. Connors, with engaging in unfair and deceptive trade practices in connection with its mail solicitations representing that consumers had won large cash prizes, awards or grants. The company was also charged with falsely holding itself out as a Maryland government agency, a large organization, and law firm. When consumers responded by paying fees of $20 or as much as $149.99, instead of receiving any prize, award or grant, they were sent lists of prizes, class action awards or grants, or checks for one dollar.
For additional information, consumers may call the Consumer Protection hotline at (410)528-8662 or toll free at (888)743-0023.