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Florida Accuses Sweepstakes Co.

November 7, 1998

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) _ American Family Publishers has been accused of targeting repeat customers through deceptive magazine solicitations and offering to sell nearly 470,000 names of senior citizens and retirees to other contests.

The Florida attorney general’s office made the accusations Friday as it amended a lawsuit against the company.

The state said American Family sent frequent buyers more suggestive mailings to reinforce the message that magazine purchases enhance the chance to win. The progression of mailings caused people to waste millions of dollars subscribing and resulted in dozens of elderly people flying to the company’s Tampa operations to claim prize money they mistakenly thought they won, the state said.

Jeanne Meyer, an American Family spokeswoman, said it’s no secret that the company sends more mail to people who order more.

``It’s standard industry practice in the direct-mail business,″ she said. ``You mail to people who are more likely to purchase from you.″

The state also said the company advertised last year to sale or rent the names and addresses of 467,623 retirees or people age 55 and older who had entered the sweepstakes.

Florida’s lawsuit outlines unfair trade practices, civil fraud, unlawful games and civil theft against American Family. On Friday, the state’s top prosecutor added corporate parents Time Inc. and Time Warner Inc. to a list of defendants.

Spokesmen for Time Inc. and American Family Publishers said the addition of defendants was unwarranted and the filing repeated unsubstantiated allegations.

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