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Inmate Magazine Service Settlement Prohibits Further Sale of Magazine Subscriptions, Orders Payment of $2.2 Million for ‘Consumer Redress’

On September 7, 2021, Inmate Magazine Service (IMS) owner Roy Snowden entered into a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody (R) that prohibits him from “advertising, marketing, promoting, or offering for sale . . . any magazine subscriptions.” He also agreed to pay $2.2 million.

As previously reported in PLN, IMS advertised magazine subscriptions to prisoners and their loved ones. Its deceptive marketing used avenues such as PLN and a website. The FTC’s civil complaint alleged IMS failed to deliver magazines within the advertised time of 120 days, if at all; failed to provide consumers the option either to consent to a delayed delivery or to cancel their order with a prompt refund; and after receiving cancellation and refund requests, failed to provide consumers with a prompt refund. [See: PLN, July 2021, p.20.]

The Stipulated Order for Permanent Injunction and Monetary Judgment Against Roy Snowden not only prohibits Snowden from continuing or assisting in the magazine businesses, it enjoins his employees, agents, attorneys, or others acting in concert with them from engaging in the deceptive conduct that was at the heart of the complaint. The order also laid out specific actions Snowden must take to prevent further deceptive business acts and practices, as well as requiring detailed records of all his transactions.

In agreeing to the monetary judgment, Snowden, 68, forfeited eight bank accounts related to his business and one personal account belonging to him and his wife. He also forfeited any assets he owns to satisfy the judgment. The remainder of the judgment was partially suspended based on the contingency that Snowden was truthful in his sworn financial statements and related documents. The suspension will be lifted and the balance immediately due if it is determined by the court that he was deceptive.

Snowden was also required to provide sufficient customer information to “efficiently administer consumer redress.” He was prohibited from using information in his customer data base in connection with the sale of magazines. And he was required to destroy that information within 30 days of the Stipulated Order. Snowden also had to submit a compliance report after one year. For the next 15 years, he must report to the FTC and the Florida Attorney General any business activity and his location.

Snowden came up with the idea for the IMS business model after he was convicted of tax evasion in 2007 and sentenced to four years in prison for transferring a yacht, luxury cars, and houses into the name of his wife or various corporate entities in an effort to avoid paying over $1 million in back taxes. See: Federal Trade Commission v. Inmate Magazine Service, USDC, (N.D. Fla.), Case No. 3:21-CV-294-TKW-HTC. 


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Related legal case

Federal Trade Commission v. Inmate Magazine Service