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STATE WIDE–Have you ever gotten a mailer that says you’ve won a prize, only to get to the car dealership to find that you’ve actually “won” a little of nothing? Indiana Atty. Gen. Curtis Hill has sued a Texas company that sent over two million mailers to Hoosiers, which Hill said was only to lure people in to hear a sales pitch.

The complaint is against Hopkins and Raines, Inc., a company Hill said sent out the mailers between March 2016 and March 2018.

The suit says that all the mailings contained game pieces purporting to determine whether recipients had won prizes, which included such valuable items as cars, TVs or $1,000 in cash. Each mailing, however, contained identical game pieces with winning numbers. They had actually not won any big prizes. 

Hoosiers who went to dealerships to claim winnings were awarded “prizes” much less valuable than those advertised, like a $5 Walmart gift card, a scratch-off lottery ticket, a cheap MP3 player or a mail-in rebate coupon for $10 off the purchase of a turkey.

“Always be skeptical of anything that seems too good to be true,” said Hill. “Typically, the announcement that ‘you’re a winner’ is merely a ploy to entice you to go listen to someone’s sales pitch. We want Hoosiers to be alert to all varieties of misleading advertising so they can avoid wasting their time or, even worse, getting talked into making ill-advised purchases.” 

In addition to the alleged deceptive nature of the mailings, Hill said the mailings violated the Promotional Gifts and Contests Act in various ways. 

These include uniformly failing to identify the name and address of the promoter; failing to state the odds of winning each prize in the appropriate place and size; failing to include the verifiable retail value of each prize in the appropriate place and size; failing to include any disclosure that the recipients may be subjected to a sales pitch; and failing to properly identify the retail value of prizes.

Hill has filed similar complaints within recent months against five other promotional firms. They are DBR Integrity Promotions Inc.; Dealer Direct Services Inc.; Prophecy Marketing; Traffic Jam Events LLC; and Xcel Media Group. To date, the Attorney General has obtained judgments against Traffic Jam Events LLC and Prophecy Marketing. 

If you believe you have been the victim of any type of scam or attempted scam, the Office of the Attorney General can help. To file a complaint, go to indianaconsumer.com or call 1-800-382-5516.

PHOTO: State attorney general’s office