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“Grant Deed” Seller Settles With Vermont Attorney General Over Deceptive Mailings

CONTACT: Elliot Burg, Assistant Attorney General, (802) 828-5479

March 26, 2013

The Vermont Attorney General’s Office has reached a settlement with Brian Pascal of Valencia, California, the CEO of BWPRS, Inc., who mailed deceptive solicitations to Vermont homeowners offering to provide them with copies of their property deeds. Pascal will refund in full the Vermonters who sent him money, will pay a civil penalty of $7,500, and is permanently barred from doing business in or into Vermont.

The mailings, sent out under the names “Record Retrieval Department” and “National Processing Center,” stated falsely that Record Retrieval Department was located in Vermont; deceptively appeared to be invoices or bills when they were really just solicitations; and claimed that a non-existent “State Record Regulation Department” had recommended that the homeowners obtain a copy of their “Grant Deed.”

Vermont Attorney General William H. Sorrell noted that his Office has received complaints of unauthorized billings from consumers and businesses filed against a number of different out-of-state companies. “Billing people for items or services they did not agree to purchase violates Vermont’s consumer protection laws,” he said. “Wrongdoers who engage in these deceptive practices will find that to be a costly practice.” Attorney General Sorrell added that he was particularly concerned that a company in this case misrepresented itself as a Vermont firm.

Pascal mailed over 1,300 mailings to Vermont homeowners, asking them to pay between $83.00 and $122.00 to obtain a “grant deed” to their home. He charged 29 people a total of about $2,500 for this service. Among other things, his mailings:

  • Bore the return address “112 S. Main Street, Department 296, Stowe, VT 05672,” when Pascal and his businesses were actually located in California.

  • Contained boldface elements that suggested that they were bills or invoices, such as “Due Date,” “Amount Due,” “FINAL NOTICE,” and “SERVICE FEE” (for payments received after a specified date). These phrases could reasonably have led consumers to believe that payments were due and owing, which was not true.

  • Set out the following question and answer: “Why do we believe you need a copy of your current Grant Deed and Property Profile? … State Record Regulation Department recommends that all United States homeowners obtain a copy of their current Grant Deed.” However, there is no “State Record Regulation Department,” nor any such recommendation.
  • Based on this conduct, the Attorney General alleged that Brian Pascal violated the Vermont Consumer Protection Act.

    For more information on the settlement, call the Attorney General’s Office at (802) 828-5479.

      Website consulting provided by The National Association of Attorneys General.