Ben Suarez was accused of making fantastic claims about pain relief and weight loss products in California when then U.S. Senate candidate Josh Mandel went to bat for the Ohio businessman and accused California authorities of prosecutorial excess.
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Suarez Corporation Industries - history of legal issues
1970: Ben Suarez starts the direct mail order business in his home.
1978: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Ohio Attorney General William Brown sue Suarez for false advertising in selling ‘No Hunger Bread,’ a diet-aid that Suarez also claimed could cure cancer.
1982 and 1983: Ohio Attorney General Tony Celebrezze filed suit against SCI for operating a mail-order marketing scheme where consumers paid an $80 subscription fee and received $17 for each new subscriber they recruited. In 1985, Suarez agreed to refund the membership fees.
1985: the U.S. Postal Service filed a complaint against SCI for mailing solicitations to 1.9 million consumers suggesting they were entitled to lost money sitting in government accounts. For $19, SCI promised to help them get the money. Those who replied received a list of 50 state offices they could write to.
1990: The Indiana attorney general filed an action against SCI for using fraudulent solicitations. Suarez agreed to stop using them and pay civil penalties.
1991: The state of New Jersey investigated newspaper ads by Suarez selling a Desert Storm brooch and savings bond without noting their value. Suarez agreed to stop the ads and offer refunds to customers.
1991: The Idaho attorney general investigated SCI solicitations. Suarez agreed to stop them, pay civil penalties and offer refunds.
December 1991 and August 1992: Washington attorney general filed consumer protection lawsuits against SCI for mailing fraudulent solicitations.
1994: West Virginia attorney general filed suit against SCI for using fraudulent solicitations to dupe 17,563 West Virginians into spending $975,389 on trinkets. The misleading pitches implied consumers could win sweepstakes prizes if they made purchases.
1994: The state of Connecticut sued SCI for fraudulent solicitations.
1994: The U.S. Postal Service filed the first of three complaints against Suarez over sweepstakes solicitations sent through the mail. The USPS and SCI reached a settlement in February 1995 with Suarez agreeing to no longer use certain solicitations.
2006: District Attorneys in four California counties plus San Diego win a judgment against SCI for deceptive marketing of a diet supplement called AbGone, which exposed the user to more than 5 mcg of lead per day. SCI is ordered to pay $275,000 in fines and costs.
June 2011: Ten California county district attorneys file suit against SCI, saying it made false and misleading claims about 18 different health related products. The action follows a multi-year investigation.
Sources: Alameda County district attorney’s office, SCI website, Dayton Daily News research, West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, Alameda County District Attorney complaint