Wyoming, Colorado to receive $1 million in settlement in magazine subscription scam targeting older consumers

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AG 5-11-21

Wyoming Attorney General Bridget Hill and Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser announced today a joint settlement of lawsuits filed against two companies that targeted consumers nationwide with deceptive mailers that sold overpriced magazine subscriptions designed to look like renewal notices for consumers’ legitimate existing subscriptions.

The Wyoming and Colorado Attorney General’s Offices, as well as the Better Business Bureau, received hundreds of complaints—largely from consumers over the age of 60—about these deceptive mailers.

One consumer, a 94-year-old, reported to the Colorado Attorney General’s Office that she sent more than $60 to Atlantic Publishers when she received what she thought was a renewal notice for her Time magazine subscription, but when she received the real renewal the next month, she called the magazine and was told they had not received her payment.

Colorado filed a lawsuit in November of 2019, and Wyoming filed its lawsuit in January of 2021. The lawsuits stated that, from 2016 through 2019, Atlantic Publishers Group, LLC and Publishers Partnership Services, LLC sent millions of these deceptive mailers to consumers across the country.

“Overcharging and misleading older consumers into thinking that the mailers were renewal notices is unconscionable,” said Weiser. “We are pleased that we were able to work with Wyoming to stop
this practice that caused financial stress for many consumers and hurt the operations of legitimate
magazine publishers.”

Because Atlantic Publishers operated out of Colorado, and Publishers Partnership Services operated
out of Wyoming, consumers from across the U.S. filed complaints with both states’ attorney general
offices.

“This settlement highlights the value of interstate coordination,” noted Hill. “Working together as
equal partners, Colorado and Wyoming have halted and held accountable those whom we allege
used our states as home base for misleading consumers nationwide.”

Under the terms of the joint settlement, the alleged organizers of this scam, Dennis Simpson and
John Ackermann, and their companies, will pay $500,000 to each of the attorney general offices to
support consumer protection efforts in Colorado and Wyoming.

They are also banned from operating magazine subscription businesses in both states and from
sending the deceptive mailers to Colorado and Wyoming consumers.

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