Iowa Attorney General Sues Davenport Business For Alleged Advertising Scam

DAVENPORT, Iowa — The Iowa Attorney General’s Office is suing a Davenport business for allegedly running a nationwide advertising scam. In a civil lawsuit, the state named Alphonso Barnum; his wife, LaFayia Kay Barnum and his mother, Willie Nance as the defendants behind the scams.

The Barnums allegedly ran several businesses including City Wide Promotions, Top Faith Solutions and New Start Media which promised to create and distribute promotional items such as posters promoting high school sports teams. The state alleges that these businesses collected money for advertising space on posters and calendars and promised to distribute them around communities, but they never created anything more than mock-up drafts or samplers.  The Barnums sold advertisements ranging from a few hundred dollars to over a thousand dollars.

The Barnums charged customers’ credit cards or bank accounts and ignored customers’ complaints until the money was gone. According to the lawsuit, when the Barnums’ business would receive enough complaints, they would change the name of their business. The lawsuit also alleges the Barnums used confusion tactics to convince customers that they previously agreed to purchase advertising and needed to pay the agreed amount. At times, they threatened to turn customers over to collection agencies if they refused to pay.

The investigation indicated that scams were conducted to customers across the country in states including Texas, California, New York, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Idaho and Iowa.

The lawsuit alleges the defendants violated the Iowa Consumer Fraud Act, and the state is seeking penalties up to $40,000 for each violation, in addition to victim reimbursement for all unlawfully obtained money.