A sweepstakes operator that took millions of dollars from consumers throughout the U.S. and dozens of other countries - including Canada, the United Kingdom, France and Japan - is banned from the prize promotion business under a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission.
According to the FTC, consumers received personalized mail that falsely claimed they had won a cash prize, often more than $2 million, and that to collect it they had to pay a fee, usually from $20 to $30. Those who paid got nothing of value in return. The vast majority of the victims appeared to be seniors over the age of 65, according to the FTC.
The FTC charged Universal Information Services with violating federal law in connection with the deceptive prize promotion letters. The court subsequently halted the operation, froze the defendants assets and appointed a receiver over the corporate defendants pending resolution of the case.
The defendants include: Liam O. Moran of Ventura, Calif.; Moran's companies, Applied Marketing Sciences LLC; Standard Registration Corp.; and Worldwide Information Systems Incorporated.
Under the settlement order, along the prize promotion business ban, the defendants are prohibited from misrepresenting any good or service, selling or otherwise benefitting from consumers personal information and failing to properly dispose of customer information.
The order imposes a judgment of more than $11 million, which represents the amount of money consumers lost. The judgment will be suspended when Moran turns over the proceeds of the sale of his home. The full judgment will become due immediately if the defendants are found to have misrepresented their financial condition.