Iowa Attorney General's Office sues Davenport business over alleged advertising scam

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DES MOINES, Iowa (KCRG) - The Iowa Attorney General’s Office is suing a Davenport resident and alleging his business promised to create promotional items, but ended up defrauding small businesses across the United States.

Court documents list Alphonso Barnum, LaFayia Kay Barnum, Willie Nance, and other corporations like New Start Media, Top Faith Solutions, and City Wide Promotions.

In the lawsuit, the state alleges businesses started selling advertising space on calendars and posters to promote high school sports teams, but then expanded the advertising space to direct mail advertisements, magnets, city information guides, and brochures.

The advertisements were sold to real estate agents, insurance agents, and other small businesses.

The companies owned by the Barnum's allegedly promised to create up to 5,000 of the promotional items and distribute them in the community, but didn't. The lawsuit also says they falsely claimed they were working with local schools to distribute items.

Documents say sometimes they would produce samples for customers, but then that would be the only product made or distributed for the customers.

The lawsuit says when the family would get too many complaints, they'd make new LLCs and switch credit card processors and banks.

The state is seeking penalties up to $40,000 for each violation, in addition to reimbursing victims for all the money wrongfully obtained.