MADISON, WI (April 26, 2013) — The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) recently completed an investigation that led to criminal charges against five employees of Thor Corporation (“Thor”), a Georgia-based company, for violations of Wisconsin’s consumer laws.
Thor sent postcards to Wisconsin consumers late last year advertising free vacations to anywhere in the continental United States. In actuality, the “free” trip required participation in a 90-minute sales presentation for a travel club. The postcard also included the names and likenesses of US Airways, Priceline.com, car rental company Alamo, and hotel chains Marriott and Hilton in an apparent attempt to entice consumers to attend the presentations and to add legitimacy to the claims, even though the companies have no affiliation with the promotion.
Criminal charges were filed by the Dane County District Attorney’s office against the five Thor employees responsible for the Wisconsin sales presentations. Each representative was charged with felony counts of identity theft for the misuse of the corporations’ identities and misdemeanor violations of state laws regarding prize notice requirements. These violations include not providing consumers with the promised free prize prior to the presentation and, in some cases, failing to provide the prize at all.
Thor employees charged with these violations include manager Randy Brown and sales agents Charles Horstman, Joseph Zielman, Curt Proudfit and Korey Jones. None of the defendants reside in Wisconsin.
DATCP identified 369 consumers who either attended a Thor sales presentation or received a postcard from the company. Financial loss is estimated at more than $343,000 combined for 87 consumers who purchased travel club memberships from October 10 to November 19, 2012.
For additional information or to file a complaint, visit the Consumer Protection Bureau at http://datcp.wisconsin.gov, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Consumer Protection Hotline toll-free at 1-800-422-7128.
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