Colorado has sued several companies for allegedly orchestrating a magazine telemarketing scam that has victimized thousands of consumers, many elderly.
The suit filed by Attorney General John Suthers' office names Rocio Trujillo and her husband, Anthony Trujillo and several companies they operate. A Denver District Court judge has entered a temporary injunction shutting down the businesses and freezing their bank accounts.
“The Trujillos preyed on thousands of consumers, many of whom are senior citizens, for nearly $1,200 per victim,” said Suthers. “Because consumers filed complaints with our office, we had the documentation needed to interrupt this illegal telemarketing scheme,” Suthers explained.
From 2002 to the present, the Trujillos ran several interrelated companies, RNA Direct Marketing, LLC; America’s Elite Media, Inc.; America’s Elite Magazines; Patriotic Readers Club; AA Publishers, LLC; and All American Publishers. Also named in the complaint are Subscription Data Processing, LLC and Fulfillment Data Processing, Inc., companies the Attorney General alleges acted with full knowledge of the deceptive telemarketing scheme and facilitated its success.
The complaint filed in Denver District Court alleges that the defendants orchestrated a three-pronged business model to complete their deception.
First, the Trujillos placed harassing sales calls to magazine subscribers trying to get them to "verify" their subscription status. The "verification" turned out to be an oral contract that supposedly provided the consumer with five magazine subscriptions each of which ran from one to five years, and cost $1,200. In actuality, some consumers were billed up to $100 per month and have “contractual obligations” in excess of $2,000.
“One elderly woman received 46 magazine orders including seven orders for Redbook, five for Woman’s Day and three for the TV Guide,” said Suthers. “Some of the 46 orders were submitted by the Trujillos while others were from other telemarketers, however, all were handled by Subscription Data Processing.”
In addition, the Trujillos are accused of engaging in other deceptive trade practices including threats to send consumers to collection agencies to bully them into participating in the “verification.”
Assuming a consumer could even get in touch with the Trujillos to try to cancel their subscriptions, the Trujillos claimed their sham “verification” process entitled them to charge consumers a $400 cancellation fee for the first year of the “contract” and $200 for cancelling in the “contract’s” second year. Sometimes, the Trujillos failed to even order the magazines.