Women's group used deceptive recruitment, NY charges

Email appeals made it sound like recipients had been carefully chosen

Millions of women have received emails from something called the International Women's Leadership Association, or IWLA. The emails give the impression that the organization has reviewed the qualifications of the recipient and decided to invite her to join their business networking group.

In fact, says New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, the company sent millions of emails without actually reviewing much of anything. The IWLA has agreed to pay a $200,000 penalty -- which was suspended because of the company's financial condition -- and will clean up its recruiting practices.

“Mass email solicitations cannot be used as a proxy for deceptive marketing practices,” said Schneiderman. “Honesty and transparency are the hallmarks of consumer protection, and those same principles must be upheld online.”

Schneiderman said the IWLA's solicitations come in various forms, but they all contained the statement, “it is my distinct pleasure to notify you that, in consideration of your contribution to family, career, and community, you have been selected as a woman of outstanding leadership.”

Schneiderman said the claim that individuals were chosen for membership based on a review of their qualification was false but nevertheless lured more than 100,000 women into signing up for membership over the last three years.

IWLA is a New York corporation with a main office located in Uniondale, New York. Its stated purpose is to provide “women with opportunities to meet, share and collaborate, whether in business or otherwise.” It claims to market its services to women at all stages of their career to help foster their upward mobility. The IWLA claims over 14,000 members who subscribe to its services and receive the benefits and privileges offered by the association.

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