Quad Cities telemarketer ordered to pay $800,000 in restitution

(Scott County, IA) -- An Iowa telemarketing company, accused of ripping off businesses in 13-states has been ordered to pay more than 800-thousand dollars in restitution.

A Scott County Judge has found Misty Barnes, Paul Barnes committed 19-consumer fraud violations.

The state accused the pair of selling non-existent services, and making unauthorized charges to customer credit card accounts. The allegations also involved cold-calling consumers and falsely saying they had past-due bills that needed immediate payment.

The Iowa Attorney General's Office sued the Barnes' and their companies -PM Specialties and Milestone Consulting earlier this year.

District Judge Mark Fowler has ordered the couple to pay the maximum civil penalties of $40,000 per violation, or $760,000, to the state.

The Barneses must also pay restitution of $60,144 to 15 consumers who provided affidavits and assisted the Iowa Attorney General’s Office in the investigation. The consumers live in Wisconsin, Idaho, North Dakota, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Utah, Indiana, Illinois, Texas, Tennessee, Arizona and Minnesota.

One consumer, the owner of a fabric store in Ohio, reported that she lost at least $23,044 to PM Specialties and Milestone Consulting.

Fowler also issued a permanent injunction against the Barneses and their businesses, ordering they cease engaging in a long list of activities, including telemarketing; selling internet, search engine or marketing boosting services; consulting services involving marketing and telemarketing; and the sale of advertising or promotional items.

The Barneses, who have lived and conducted operations in Davenport and Bettendorf, are believed to have moved their operations to Illinois after Miller sued them in Iowa. PM Specialties continues to operate an active website. Fowler’s ruling said the site contains multiple false statements.

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