MorphCorp is a Denver-based company that for years has produced International (Surname) Family Yearbooks. Insert your name in place of (Surname). For instance, when publishing a book claiming to be about my family, they would call it the "International Eastman Family Yearbook." If publishing about the Clark family, they would call it the "International Clark Family Yearbook."
These so-called books were not worth the paper they were printed on. You can read the review of these books that I wrote eighteen months ago at http://blog.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/2004/07/international_s.html. Now Colorado' s Attorney General John W. Suther has gone after the company and stopped the scam.
MorphCorp paid a $30,000 civil penalty and another $25,000 to reimburse the State of Colorado for attorney fees and costs, as well as agreeing to stop their deceptive advertising. In addition, the company has agreed to refund money to any unhappy purchaser. This means any purchase made over the years, not within the past 30 days or so.
Here is the MorphCorp settlement as published by the State of Colorado Attorney General's office:
Colorado Department of Law
Attorney General John W. Suthers
ATTORNEY GENERAL SUTHERS ANNOUNCES SETTLEMENT OF LAWSUIT AGAINST MORPHCORP, LLC FOR DECEPTIVE ADVERTISING OF
(DENVER) Attorney General John Suthers announced today that his office has settled a consumer protection lawsuit against Morphcorp LLC, a Parker, Colorado company, as well as the company's President and General Manager, Maxwell MacMaster, for alleged deceptive advertising and sales of "Family Yearbooks."
"The 'Family Yearbook' was nothing more than a photocopy of the same material deceptively sold to thousands of consumers," said Suthers. "We are pleased that Morphcorp and MacMaster have agreed to stop making these deceptive claims and pay penalties and fees for misleading consumers."
Under the terms of the settlement, approved by the Court on February 3, 2006, Morphcorp and MacMaster have paid a $30,000 civil penalty and have agreed to significant changes in the way the "Family Yearbooks" are marketed.
"Colorado consumer protection law prohibits the use of false and misleading advertising to sell products to unsuspecting consumers," said Suthers. "Our office is committed to enforcing that law by pursuing companies that violate it, as we have done here."
Among other things, the court-approved settlement prohibits Morphcorp and MacMaster from stating or implying that:
MacMaster or any other employee has the same last name of or is otherwise related to the consumer;
the "Family Yearbook" is compiled, authored, sponsored, or announced by "contributing family member(s);"
it contains 2000 years of history regarding a specific family, or that it represents a complete revision of the family's classic history; the product is a "Family Yearbook" without a clear and conspicuous disclosure that it is not published yearly and that it contains no pictures of members of the specific family; any price for the "Family Yearbook" is a "special pre-publication price" or "pre-publication price."
Morphcorp and MacMaster have agreed to provide refunds to consumers who request one. They also agreed to return any photographs that consumers have sent to them if the consumer requests their return and is able to identify the photographs. Finally, Morphcorp and MacMaster have paid to the State $25,000 in attorney fees and costs.
The lawsuit, filed by the Attorney General's Office in November, alleged that the advertisements for the "Yearbook" included various false and misleading statements about the content of the "Yearbook" as well as misrepresentations such as MacMaster and his then-wife holding themselves out as having the same last name of the consumer to whom the flyer was sent. The lawsuit also claimed that Morphcorp engaged in improper pricing practices by falsely advertising that the "Yearbook" was available at a "special pre-publication price" for a limited period of time, when in fact nearly all of the "Yearbooks" sold were at the "special pre-publication price."
Consumers with complaints regarding Morphcorp or the "Family Yearbook" may call the Colorado Consumer Line toll-free 1-800-222-4444 or may download a complaint form at: http://www.ago.state.co.us/consline/complaint.pdf.
Consumers desiring a refund or the return of photographs sent to Morphcorp, also doing business as Family News, may also contact the company directly at: (720) 297-6250.
My thanks to Jeff Scism for the latest information.