The State of Colorado has sued a company it said defrauded people interested in their family tree, by selling them a book allegedly containing their family's genealogical information.
Instead of getting family-specific information, says Attorney General John Suthers, purchasers of the book found general recopies, jokes, and old photographs of people unrelated to them.
Suthers filed a consumer protection lawsuit against Morphcorp LLC, a Parker, Colorado company, as well as the company's president and general manager, Maxwell MacMaster, for alleged deceptive advertising and sales of "Family Yearbooks."
"Deceptive advertising will not be tolerated in Colorado," said Suthers.
"This lawsuit alleges that Morphcorp used deceptive advertising and marketing tactics to sell thousands of Family Yearbooks' to unsuspecting consumers in Colorado and throughout the country."
The lawsuit alleges that Morphcorp marketed the "Family Yearbook" as a product of genealogical research that was unique to the consumer's family history. Yet, as the lawsuit alleges, Morphcorp does not conduct any genealogical research specific to the family before printing the Yearbook. In fact, says Suthers, much of the same information, including "family jokes and recipes" and family pictures appear in each Yearbook regardless of the surname for which it was created.
The lawsuit charges that MacMaster offered the Yearbooks through direct-mail advertising, which included various false and misleading statements. Among those was a claim by MacMaster and his then-wife that they shared the same last name of the consumer to whom the flyer was sent.
The lawsuit also alleges that Morphcorp engaged in improper pricing practices by falsely advertising that the Yearbook was available at a "special pre-publication price" for a limited period of time, when in fact nearly all of the Yearbooks sold were at the "special pre-publication price."
In most cases, that price was $44.85, including charges for shipping and handling.
Suthers' lawsuit seeks a court order providing refunds to purchasers, civil penalties of up to $2,000 for each violation of the Consumer Protection Act, and attorney fees and costs. The lawsuit also seeks an injunction preventing defendants from engaging in any future false and deceptive advertising of their merchandise.