Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne has filed documents in Maricopa County Superior Court alleging that several related Arizona telemarketing companies have defrauded nearly 5,000 consumers out of more than $6 million since 2008.
“These Defendants have been operating this scam since 2008, when the economic crisis became most acute,” Horne said. “They were clearly preying on people, many of them elderly, who were facing desperate financial problems and cynically offering a program that appeared to help people earn more income, when it was in fact nothing but a fraudulent scam. Arizona consumers need to be extremely cautious about who they give their money to. If a deal sounds too good to be true, it usually is. That was certainly the case here.”
According to the Complaint, the companies, started by Defendant Christopher Lewallen, went by names including Solid Ad Solutions, Solid Tech Solutions, E-Web Financial, and Freedom Billing. Their targets were consumers who had either previously purchased or filled out an information request regarding home-based business opportunities. The Defendants offered to set up consumers with an internet “web-mall” where they could earn commissions on products bought through the “web-mall” or through ads placed on the website. In addition, consumers were promised a business coaching program that would show them how to operate the business successfully.
The company promised a high rate of income and a “risk free” investment while charging the consumer anywhere from $99 to $499 in up-front costs. Once a consumer made the initial purchase, the companies used high pressure sales techniques to sell other services at much higher costs, sometimes reaching more than $33,000 for advertising and web traffic. No consumer ever recouped his or her investment or made commissions nearing the amount invested.
The Complaint accuses the 11 Defendants of violating the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act as well as the Arizona Telephone Solicitations Act, and asks the Court to bar defendants from further telemarketing, impose civil penalties for each Defendant of up to $10,000 for each violation as well as provide restitution to the victims.
The complaint names Solid Ad Solutions, Solid Tech Solutions, Freedom Billing, E-First Financial, E-Web Financial, Christopher P. Lewallen, James T. Lewallen Jr, Denise Lewallen, Forest T. Anderson, Matthew Porterfield, Andrew Lawrence Hepfinger, Paul James Therianos, Melissa Therianos, Lisa Shepard Angelini, Anthony Angelini, and Cody A. Tolbert.