Court Order Halts Sales Of "freedom Tower Silver Dollars"
Attorney General Spitzer today announced that his office has obtained a court order temporarily halting sales of a collectible item fraudulently and misleadingly marketed by a private company as a real coin issued to commemorate the September 11th terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.
An order was issued today against National Collector's Mint, a private company based in Port Chester, N.Y. The order halts sales of the company's "Freedom Tower Silver Dollar," which has been heavily advertised on national television and in other venues.
"This product has been promoted with claims that are false, misleading or unsubstantiated," Spitzer said. "It is a shameless attempt to profit from a national tragedy."
Beginning in September, National Collector's Mint began marketing its "Freedom Tower Silver Dollar" with a number of claims that Spitzer's office believes are improper.
First, the company's ads claim the medallion is "a legally authorized government issue silver dollar." The medallion also simulates official U.S. currency by using the phrase "In God We Trust" and the inscription "One Dollar," both of which appear on U.S. coins. The "legally authorized" claim in the ads and the official appearance of the medallion have led many consumers to complain that they were misled into believing that it was issued or authorized by the U.S. government.
Spitzer noted that the company's sales representatives have told consumers that the medallion is official legal tender. In reality, the medallion was produced by SoftSky, Inc., a private company in Wyoming, in connection with a licensing agreement with the "Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands." The 14 tiny islands comprising the Northern Marianas Islands are U.S. territory, but have no authority to issue U.S. currency.
The company's ads also claim the coin was "minted from pure silver recovered from ground zero" and that the coin is "100 Mil .999 pure silver." The lawsuit contends that the company's claims about the silver content of the medallion are misleading and create the impression that it is solid silver rather than plated in silver. In fact, Spitzer said, the silver content of the "Freedom Tower" medallion is infinitesimal compared to the silver content of a pure silver coin.
Spitzer's office maintains that these and other claims made by the company violate the state's false advertising and general business laws.
The lawsuit also seeks the following:
- A permanent injunction barring the company from making false representations and from engaging in deceptive practices;
- Full disclosure in all advertisements that the company's products are not issued or endorsed by the United States Government;
- An accounting of consumers who have already purchased the Freedom Tower coin and an offer of full restitution to those consumers; and
- Civil penalties for violations of law.
The court order was issued yesterday by State Supreme Court Justice Joseph Cannizzaro in Albany.
Individuals seeking to file a complaint against National Collector's Mint can do so by going to the Attorney General's website at www.ag.ny.gov or by calling the Attorney General's consumer help line at (800) 771-7755.
This case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Matthew Barbaro of the Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau.
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