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Judge orders Iowa telemarketer to pay $2.6 million over national advertising scam


A Polk County judge has ordered a Quad Cities-based telemarketing operation to pay nearly $2.6 million and permanently banned it from doing business after finding the operation had defrauded small businesses across the nation, the Iowa attorney general’s office announced this week. Polk County District Judge Heather Lauber ruled against owner Alphonso “Al” Barnum of Davenport, several of his associates and 10 companies. In 2019, Attorney General Tom Miller sued Barnum and others, alleging the defendants violated the Iowa Consumer Fraud Act by using deception, confusion and high-pressure tactics purportedly to sell advertisements for direct-mail pieces and promotional items, such as high school sports posters and city information guides. Lauber found that in many cases the companies delivered no products; between January 2016 and January 2019 the defendants’ bank accounts received more than $1.94 million in deposits taken from consumers. 

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