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Consumer News Release

For immediate release -- Thursday, April 29, 1999.
Contact Bob Brammer -- 515-281-6699

Georgia Telemarketer Pleads Guilty

Steven Edward Gordon of Roswell, Georgia, pled guilty Wednesday in Polk County District Court to conspiracy to commit theft by deception in the second degree, a Class D felony, in connection with a telemarketing scheme involving the sale of office supplies to Iowa businesses.

Gordon was sentenced by District Court Judge D.J. Stovall to a five-year suspended sentence and placed on probation for three years. Gordon must refrain from telemarketing to Iowans as a condition of probation.

The Attorney General's Office filed a criminal telemarketing charge February 3 naming Gordon. The State alleged that Gordon managed a business called North American Distribution, or "N.A.D.," of Alpharetta, Georgia. A representative of N.A.D. would make "cold calls" to target businesses nationwide, falsely claiming to be a "Dr. Bennett" who had recently inherited an office supply operation from his deceased brother.

"The so-called Dr. Bennett would claim that he was liquidating the inventory, and that the owner of the target business had agreed to help him out by buying some business supplies," said Attorney General Tom Miller. If a sale was consummated through this deception, N.A.D. would sometimes continue the ruse by sending additional, unordered merchandise in larger volumes, along with an invoice for substantially more money than the original transaction.

"This was a typical office-supply telemarketing scam targeting Iowa businesses," said Miller. He said Gordon's is the third felony conviction obtained against out-of-state telemarketers engaged in fraudulent sale of office supplies, and he said more civil and criminal actions are planned.

"Gordon is out of operation as a telemarketer and has a felony record," Miller said. "We also believe other so-called 'toner pirates' are avoiding Iowa altogether knowing they may be caught and face criminal charges."

Miller also said his office has organized an "Office Scam Alert Project" to educate and warn businesses about schemes that tend to target businesses, professional offices, associations, and churches and synagogues.

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