The Federal Trade Commission has issued a default judgment against David Raff, Millenium Direct Incorporated, and Ian Gamberg over charges alleging that they engaged in a mass-mail fraud scheme inducing mostly elderly consumers to pay money in order to receive a cash prize that never arrived.

According to the order, announced December 18, the defendants mailed fake prize notifications addressed to the victim, telling them that they had won a cash prize. Victims were tricked into paying $25 to receive the supposed $1 million cash prize, which never materialized. Some victims were tricked into making repeated payments, adding up to significant sums. Along with fraudulently collecting these payments, the defendants allegedly sold consumers’ personal information to other marketers.

The defendants have been ordered to pay $501,895 and may not participate in the prize promotion business or misrepresent any good or service.

TAKEAWAY: Advertisers should be vigilant when purchasing lists of personal contact information that can be used as marketing leads, as these lists can sometimes be gathered illicitly or compiled to target vulnerable populations such as the elderly.