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Ventura County Focus / Countywide

Firm's Partners Pay $215,000 in Fraud Case

January 14, 1998|SCOTT HADLY

A Moorpark couple and their business partners have agreed to pay $215,000 in civil penalties and restitution to settle a civil consumer protection complaint filed by Ventura County prosecutors last year.

The settlement, signed by Superior Court Judge Barbara Lane on Friday, includes a permanent injunction against CTF Enterprises Inc. and Express Office Supply from fraudulent and deceptive telephone sales, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Mitch Disney.

The business, operated by Moorpark couple Mark and Carol Footitt, with John McCarty of Topanga and Conrad Carriker of Hawaii, used telemarketing calls to dupe small businesses into buying their product, Disney said.

The judgment settles a civil complaint filed in February 1997 that alleged that the company's telemarketers called small businesses and nonprofit organizations across the country and duped them into believing that they were that company's business supplier of photocopy toner, according to prosecutors.

The small businesses and nonprofit organizations were then told that the cost of the toner had gone up but that the businesses were eligible for a discount. In fact, CTF and Express were charging two to four times what the companies usually paid, prosecutors said.

Mark Footitt said Tuesday that the company did nothing wrong and operated in an ethical fashion.

In a prepared statement, Footitt accused the district attorney's Consumer and Environmental Protection Division of bullying his small business into making a settlement.

"Defendants simply did not have the financial resources to fight the District Attorney's Office and were forced to settle the matter, although they had done nothing wrong," Footitt said in the statement.

But Disney said that his office had received dozens of customer complaints about the company's business practices.

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