LAWFUEL – Press Release Service – Attorney General Eliot Spitzer tod…

LAWFUEL – Press Release Service – Attorney General Eliot Spitzer today announced that his office has secured $110,000 in
restitution and civil penalties from three Erie County individuals who targeted senior citizens
through a telemarketing scam involving the sale of winning lottery numbers.
Michael J. Geiger and Michael D. Marranca, the owners of Multi-Plays of America, Inc. and the
company’s general manager, Noelle M. Alessandra, all consented to the court order that
permanently bars them from telemarketing to consumers or for charitable purposes in New
York State.
“Consumers lose an estimated $40 billion a year to telemarketing fraud,” Spitzer said. “It is
especially egregious when scam artists target vulnerable seniors.”
Spitzer’s investigation revealed that the defendants operated a fraudulent telemarketing
business which offered for sale numbers which were purported to be “most likely” to win various
lotteries throughout the country.
Using so-called “sucker lists” – lists of consumers who had been defrauded by telemarketers in
the past – the defendants called elderly consumers with offers to sell “likely winning lottery
numbers” when, in fact, the real purpose was to gain authorization to electronically debit the
consumer’s checking account.
The scam began when seniors received telemarketing calls falsely telling them they had been
“selected to receive the most likely winning combinations of the Lottery.” The caller claimed
that the company’s “scientific formula” provided the most likely winning lottery combinations.
The telemarketer would further entice consumers with an offer of a one-week $39.99 trial
package containing the winning combination numbers along with a coupon book, which
generally turned out to be of minimal value, consisting largely of offers to “buy-one-get-one
free” and for pre-paid credit cards.
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Once the telemarketers gained authorization to access the individual’s checking account, it
debited not only the initial $39.99, but also continued to charge a monthly fee of $149.99 which
was electronically withdrawn from the consumer’s checking account.
At least 40 consumers, or in the case of some elderly individuals, their caretakers or relatives,
have filed complaints against Multi-Plays since 2002. Prior to this agreement Spitzer’s office
successfully mediated many of those complaints.
In settling the matter, Geiger and Marranca agreed to pay $100,000 and Alessandra agreed to
pay $10,000. With those monies, Spitzer’s office will establish a restitution fund of $80,000
from which refunds may be made to any consumer who requests a refund from Multi-Plays.
The remaining $30,000 will cover civil penalties and costs of the investigation.
Any consumer wishing to obtain a refund from Multi-Plays through this settlement should file a
complaint with the Attorney General’s office within 90 days. To obtain a complaint form,
consumers should call the Attorney General’s consumer help line at (800) 771-7755 or to visit
the office’s website at
This matter is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Dennis Rosen and Senior
Investigator Peter J. Eiss of the Buffalo Regional Office.

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