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Jul. 8—COLUMBUS — Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has filed a lawsuit in Defiance County against four people who ran an unregistered business that sold fishing lures it regularly failed to deliver and enrolled customers in a monthly fee-based subscription service they never agreed to join.
To date, 84 consumers have filed complaints against the National Anglers Association (NAA), operated by Cole Dockery, Jakob Schoenauer, Alexandria McGlaughlin and Wyatt Puffinberger, all of northwest Ohio.
NAA is not registered as a business with the Ohio Secretary of State's Office, nor is it affiliated with the legitimate National Professional Anglers Association (NPAA).
"These fishy business practices are unacceptable," Yost said. "NAA lured consumers in and then hooked them with supplies they didn't want or ask for."
NAA used a variety of online platforms and social media to advertise, claiming that it partnered with small businesses throughout the United States to provide high-quality lures and baits. Consumers could make individual purchases or sign up for a monthly subscription program.
Some consumers complained to the Northwestern Ohio Better Business Bureau (BBB) that they were signed up for the subscription program without their knowledge after ordering individual fishing lures. In addition, consumers complained that NAA made misleading statements in its advertising, failed to deliver goods or services, and did not provide refunds.
The Northwestern Ohio BBB referred the complaints to Yost's Consumer Protection Section.
"Since the COVID pandemic, BBB has seen a serious increase in complaints from consumers buying from unknown companies selling on social media like Facebook and Instagram," Dick Eppstein, the president of the Northwestern Ohio BBB, said. "In this case, the BBB suddenly started getting complaints about the National Anglers Association. When this happens, we are concerned that many more victims are also being cheated and the situation may be serious.
This was why we forwarded our concerns, and the complaints, to the Ohio Attorney General's office. We were concerned that the company may be violating law and many consumers might be losing money."
The Consumer Protection investigation found that many payment platforms refused to allow Dockery, the leader of the scheme, to continue to accept payments due to many charge-backs and issues with shipping. When this happened, another defendant would set up an account to accept payments on behalf of NAA.
NAA no longer appears to be in business, but if you believe you have been victimized by NAA or by another unfair or deceptive business practice, contact the Ohio Attorney General's Office at www.OhioProtects.org or 1-800-282-0515.