A company based in the Valley is under scrutiny for cold-calling customers under the guise of helping disabled people.
Telemarketers for Fresh Start Handicapped Workers say they're disabled and tug heartstrings to get people to buy everyday household supplies at a very high price. The company claims most of it goes back to helping disabled workers, but it's in trouble for calling the wrong people.
In a targeted sales pitch recorded by officials, a telemarketer known as "Ken" tries to sell to an undercover phone line at the Iowa Attorney General's Office.
Ken: Hi there, my name is Ken. I'm a handicapped person. I'm working for Fresh Start Handicapped Workers.
Woman: Fresh Start?
Ken: I'm in Phoenix, Arizona, but we have offices all over the United States.
The company website claims it employs people who have a hard time getting a job.
The salesman, "Ken," says they take orders for household products, such as light bulbs and trash bags. He tells the woman on the end of the line that if he doesn't send anything out, he doesn't get paid.
CBS 5 News learned they sold them at a very high price. For instance, light bulbs were $57. Now the Iowa Attorney General is calling the company out after the Fresh Start telemarketer called their line.
"In fact, this is a for-profit company, and from what we determine, it is not helping disabled workers," said spokesman Geoff Greenwood of the Iowa AG's office.
Company directors Paul and Martha Giza of Peoria, AZ, were ordered never to call Iowans again and to pay $10,000 in restitution.
CBS 5 News had no trouble finding Paul Giza. The company headquarters is in Phoenix. CBS 5 News tried asking for his side of the story. He replied no comment several times, but eventually denied any wrongdoing. When asked why he then agreed to pay $10,000 to the Iowa Attorney General Consumer Fraud Fund, he also had no comment.
CBS 5 News then checked out one of their call centers near 25th Avenue and Camelback. Everyone inside was busy working the phones. A sign in the window says workers can earn up to $3,000 a week.
So far, the no-call policy applies just to Iowa, but the representative from their Attorney General's Office says it wouldn't surprise them if they were scamming people here. The Arizona Attorney General's Office said they could not disclose whether they were investigating the company.
Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.
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