DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - A judge is banning a Quad Cities-based telemarketing operation from doing business and ordering it to pay more than $2.5 million.
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The judge found the company has been defrauding small businesses across the country.
On Tuesday, a judge made the ruling against owner Alphonso Barnum of Davenport, several of his associates and ten companies.
In December 2018, Barnum was sued by Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller and was accused of using deception and high-pressure tactics to sell ads for direct-mail pieces and promotional items like high school sports posters and city information guides.
The judge found that in many cases, the companies delivered no products.
The judge also found that Barnum's agents also called businesses and lied to consumers, telling them they had previously agreed to purchase advertising and that their accounts would be sent to a collection agency unless the consumers paid that day.
The consumers would then give them credit card or bank account numbers, which Barnum and the other defendants would use to make unauthorized charges against the victims' accounts.
The judge found that between January 2016 and January 2019, the defendants' bank accounts received more than $1.94 million in deposits taken from consumers.
"We're pleased that the judge found clear and convincing evidence to penalize Barnum and his partners," Miller said. "He refused to respond to our requests at every turn, but our Consumer Protection Division persisted in bringing the defendants to justice."