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Lawsuit Alleges eChurch Made Deceptive Solicitations To Wisconsin Businesses and Billed for Services That Were Not Ordered


MADISON - The Wisconsin Department of Justice has settled a consumer protection lawsuit against a California corporation, Radical Persson, Inc., and its owner and operator, Lars Persson, of Huntington Beach. The defendants sold internet services to small businesses under the names eChurch Network and ILab Technologies.


According to the lawsuit, under the direction of Mr. Persson, the company's telemarketers made misleading representations to solicit businesses to purchase its internet-related services, and then enrolled many businesses as customers even though they did not authorize the purchase of the company's services. Since August 2003, nearly 600 Wisconsin businesses were charged for services totaling at least $119,000.


"Under Wisconsin law, there is a price to pay for charging others for services they did not ask for," said Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen. "The defendants are paying that price now."


To collect the charges, Radical Persson, Inc. contracted with ILD Telecommunications, Inc., which as a billing aggregator has the ability to place charges on customers' telephone bills for collection by the customer's telephone company. The state previously reached a settlement with ILD, requiring it to institute practices designed to detect and prevent "cramming," or the placement of unauthorized charges on consumers' telephone bills.


Under the settlement reached with Radical Persson, Inc. and Lars Persson, the state was awarded judgment in the amount of $100,000, which includes forfeitures, restitution to injured businesses, and reimbursement of the state's costs of investigating and prosecuting the action. The judgment also prohibits the defendants from engaging in direct marketing activities in Wisconsin for eight years.


"We will continue to work with the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection to ensure the state's consumer protection laws are enforced," said Van Hollen.


The settlement was approved by Dane County Circuit Court Judge David Flanagan. Assistant Attorney General John Greene prosecuted the case. The case was investigated by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection.