Press Release

For Immediate Release
Contact: Cara Smith
312-814-3118
877-844-5461 (TTY)

csmith@atg.state.il.us
November 15, 2006

MADIGAN SUES NEW YORK COMPANY FOR MISLEADING EMPLOYMENT ADVERTISEMENTS

Chicago-Attorney General Lisa Madigan today filed a lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court alleging that a New York company placed misleading employment advertisements in the Chicago Sun-Times and other newspapers.

Madigan’s lawsuit names two defendants: Mercury Net Com, Inc., a New York Corporation, located at 151 1st Avenue in New York, and Oliver Oziel, a principal of Mercury Net Com, Inc.

According to the allegations in Madigan’s lawsuit, beginning in at least March 2005, the defendants placed advertisements in the Chicago Sun-Times and other newspapers which stated:

            HOSPITAL JOBS
            Support Service Entry Level
            Laundry, Janitorial, Food Prep
            Building attend. Supplies & Other
            Immed Apply.Bnfts. CH Metro.
            $15.00 per call. 312-976-5959

Madigan alleges that the advertisements directed consumers to call 312-976-5959 to obtain more information and led consumers to believe that the information would describe specific jobs.  A consumer call to the advertised number resulted in a $15.00 charge to the consumer’s local telephone bill. 

According to the complaint, despite the cost of the call, consumers heard nothing more than a recorded message which provided them with a list of hospitals in the Chicago area at which they could apply for jobs. For each hospital, consumers received only the following information that they could have easily obtained by for free: the hospital address, website address, and the hours of the Human Resources Department.

Madigan’s lawsuit charges the defendants with violating Section 2 of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act and with multiple violations of the Illinois Job Referral and Job Listing Services Consumer Protection Act.

“Misleading advertisements like this take unfair advantage of people who are searching for better employment options,” Madigan said.  “Unfortunately, consumers need to be very wary of advertisements services that charge them to obtain information on job listings.”

Madigan’s lawsuit asks the court to prohibit the defendants from advertising, selling, operating or promoting a “job referral service,” and from further violating Illinois’ consumer protection laws. The lawsuit seeks a civil penalty of $50,000 and additional penalties of $50,000 for each violation found to have been committed with the intent to defraud. Madigan’s lawsuit also asks the court to order the defendants to pay restitution to consumers and to pay all costs for the prosecution and investigation of this case.

Assistant Attorney General Janice Parker is handling the case for Madigan’s Consumer Protection Division.

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