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For Immediate Release
May 1, 2003
Contact: Sean Caine, 410-576-6357
scaine@oag.state.md.us

CURRAN ANNOUNCES SETTLEMENT OF ACTION AGAINST ALABAMA BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY SELLER
Continues crackdown against home based business and work at home frauds

Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced today that his Office has settled charges against a Birmingham, Alabama company that operated a vending machine scam through several corporate identities. In June 2002, Curran’s Securities Division joined the Federal Trade Commission in filing a complaint against Accent Marketing, Inc., Monarch Vending, Inc., Vend 1 One, Inc., and their principals, John Nolan White and John Byron White. The lawsuit alleged that the defendants violated federal and state law in the sale of vending machine business opportunities, including a coin-operated game known as the "Brain Teaser."

"The Office of the Attorney General will bring actions against anyone seeking to victimize Maryland residents with a fraudulent business opportunity," Attorney General Curran said. "I warn Maryland citizens to be cautious and diligent before investing their money in any business venture."

In the complaint filed against Accent Marketing, the FTC and Curran’s Securities Division alleged that the defendants placed ads in newspapers nationwide, including Maryland, luring investors with ads promising a "RISK FREE ROUTE" with "proven" income of $3,250 per month. Consumers who responded reached a telemarketer who falsely promised a profitable business opportunity and recovery of the initial investment within three or four months. The vending machine business opportunities cost between $9,000 to $35,000. The defendants also falsely promised to provide profitable locations for the vending machines and referred potential investors to phony references paid to lie about their success.

While an earlier temporary restraining order froze the defendants’ assets, the settlement announced today bars the defendants from advertising, promoting or selling any business ventures, and prohibits them from owning or working for any entity that engages in those activities. The settlement contains an $18 million judgment against the corporate defendants, and a $2 million judgment against the individual defendants.

The Attorney General’s office has brought several other actions in the last year in a continuing crackdown against sellers of fraudulent business opportunities. Curran settled actions for violations of Maryland’s Business Opportunity Sales Act against Parr Marketing Group from Maryland, and Antares Corporation d.b.a. Natural Choice USA from California.

The Attorney General reminds anyone looking to earn money through a home based business to first contact the Securities Division of his office by calling (410) 576-7042. Information about investing in business opportunities also is available at the Attorney General’s web page, www.oag.state.md.us, by clicking on publications.

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