Business Accused of Scamming Prisoners and Their Families

Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The owner and operator of Inmate Magazine Service, a company that scammed prisoners and their families by charging them for magazine subscriptions that either showed up late or not at all, will be permanently banned from selling or marketing magazine subscriptions.

Under the terms of a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission and the Florida Office of Attorney General, Roy Snowden, who owned and operated a number of businesses that operated as Inmate Magazine Service, will also be required to surrender the contents of multiple bank accounts.

The FTC and Florida’s complaint against Snowden and his companies alleged that they marketed magazine subscriptions to consumers serving prison sentences, as well as their families, offering to send the magazines to the prisoners while they were incarcerated and promising the magazines would arrive within 120 days.

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In many cases, the magazines never arrived or were delivered far later than promised, with no notification to the consumers about delayed shipment or the chance to cancel their orders as required by the FTC’s Mail, Internet, or Telephone Order Merchandise Rule. The complaint also alleged that consumers were almost never able to contact the company to request refunds or status updates on orders.

“The FTC is committed to halting consumer abuses against incarcerated individuals and their families,” said Samuel Levine, Acting Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Like all Americans, incarcerated individuals and their families deserve to get what they paid for, and get it when it was promised.”

The settlement includes a monetary judgment of $2.2 million, which is partially suspended based on an inability to pay, with Snowden required to turn over the contents of nine different bank accounts used for the scheme. Should Snowden be found to have misrepresented his financial status, the full amount of the judgment would immediately become payable.

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In addition, the settlement prohibits Snowden from any further violations of the Mail, Internet, or Telephone Order Merchandise Rule.

The Commission vote approving the stipulated final order was 5-0. The FTC and Florida filed the proposed order in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida.

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