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CLASS ACTION COMPLAINT AND DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL Plaintiff Evalour Dioquino brings this Class Action Complaint against Defendant Sempris, LLC, on her own behalf, and on behalf of a Class and Subclasses of similarly situated individuals who were charged without authorization for Defendant’s Membership Programs (defined below). Plaintiff, for her Complaint, alleges as follows upon personal knowledge as to herself and her own acts and experiences and, as to all other matters, upon information and belief, including investigation conducted by her attorneys. PARTIES Plaintiff Evalour Dioquino is a natural person and citizen of the State of

California. 2. Defendant Sempris, LLC, is a marketing services company that operates

numerous “Membership Loyalty Programs.” Sempris is a corporation incorporated and existing under the laws of the State of Delaware, with its principal place of business located at 11100 Wayzata Boulevard, Suite 680, Minneapolis, Minnesota. It does business throughout the United States, the State of California, and this District. Until early 2011, Defendant Sempris operated under the corporate name Provell, Inc. JURISDICTION AND VENUE The Court has subject matter jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 28

U.S.C. § 1332(d), because (a) at least one member of the putative class is a citizen of a state different from Defendant, (b) the amount in controversy exceeds $5,000,000, exclusive of interest and costs, and(c) none of the exceptions under that subsection apply to this action. 4. Venue is proper in this District under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(a) as Plaintiff is a

resident of this District and the injury arose here. Venue is additionally proper because Defendant transacts significant business in this District, including soliciting consumer business, and entering into consumer transactions.

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FACTS COMMON TO ALL COUNTS Preacquired Account Marketing 5. Preacquired account marketing is a widespread and problematic marketing

practice whereby a consumer gives private billing information to a business for the purpose of purchasing a good or service from that business only; however, the consumer’s billing information is then passed to a third party who utilizes it to place charges on the consumer’s account for unrelated products. The “merchant partner” who originally acquired the billing information is paid a fee by the third party for every set of information it passes. This sharing of consumer information is commonly referred to as a “data pass.” 6. In a majority of instances, consumers do not consent to the sharing of their

information in this manner, and are more often than not completely unaware that a merchant has transferred their information to a third party. 7. Following the data pass, consumers are commonly enrolled in a membership

program or “loyalty club” by the third party with a recurring monthly subscription. Any possible benefits that exist from the membership programs are rarely realized because the overwhelming majority of consumers are unaware they have been enrolled in these clubs and/or programs in the first instance. Third party sellers and their merchant partners are completely aware of the deceptive nature of this business model. 8. However, even after thousands of complaints, a variety of preacquired

marketing continues to plague consumers. Sempris’ History of Deceptive Marketing 9. Defendant Sempris has been active in the preacquired marketing industry for

over a decade and remains one of the more problematic participants. Previously operating as Provell, Inc., and before that, Damark International, Inc., Defendant’s practice of fraudulently enrolling and charging consumers for memberships in its Membership Programs has been well documented by thousands of consumer complaints over the past ten years.

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10.

Defendant’s business practices previously resulted in an investigation and

complaint filed against Defendant by the Minnesota Attorney General in 1999, forcing Defendant (then operating as Damark International Inc.) to issue an official Assurance of Discontinuance.1 11. Despite its Assurance of Discontinuance, Defendant simply changed its name

to Provell, Inc. and resumed its deceptive business practices—namely, using preacquired information to fraudulently enroll consumers in its Membership Programs. 12. After operating as Provell, Inc. for the past ten years, and accumulating

thousands of consumer complaints under that name, Defendant has changed its business name yet again to Sempris. 13. Sempris’s Membership Programs include, but are not limited to: Value Plus,

Budget Savers, Cooking in Style, Essentials for Home, Explore USA, FunSource, Homeplay, Pulse, and Vacation Passport. Sempris has also partnered with various merchants to create “Custom” Programs, such as: Glamour in You and Duets (for Frederick’s of Hollywood), Chase Ultimate Rewards Plus (for Chase Manhattan Bank), and JC Whitney Buyers Plus (for JC Whitney). Consumers have complained about each and every one of Defendant’s Membership Programs. 14. Defendant enrolls consumers in its Membership Programs via the telephone

after a consumer makes a purchase from one of Defendant’s Merchant Partners. These calls are made by telemarketers trained to use standardized and systematic techniques to deceive customers. Defendant’s telemarketers induce consumers to make uninformed statements of alleged consent by offering “free trials” and complimentary gift cards or merchandise. However, these “free trials” are actually negative option memberships where a consumer is required to call and cancel to avoid being charged, and complimentary gifts are rarely, if Assurance of Discontinuance, Minnesota ex rel. Hatch v. Damark Int’l, Inc., No. C8-9910638 (Ramsey County Dist. Ct. Dec. 3, 1999).
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ever, received. At no point during this registration process does Defendant clearly disclose the terms of its Membership Programs. 15. Consumers who are contacted by these telemarketers do not understand the

terms of the solicitation, or become confused by the details and fast paced description of the various offers. Telemarketers are trained to omit or gloss over any unappealing terms, and recite a script designed to make the offers seem appealing. 16. Consumers are not required to provide any billing or account information to

receive the “free trial” (as third party sellers already have this information), leading many to believe that they have not agreed to be charged. 17. In many instances, Defendant blatantly ignores consumers who decline

enrollment in its Membership Programs, and enrolls consumers regardless of their response. 18. In particular, many of the online complaints submitted about Defendant’s

practices allege that consumers were enrolled in Membership Programs without giving any consent or notice. 19. In an even more brazen attempt to defraud consumers of their money, in many

instances, Defendant does not contact the consumer at all, and simply uses the billing information it already possesses to enroll unknowing consumers into its Membership Programs. 20. Additionally, it is Defendant’s common practice to enroll consumers in

multiple Membership Programs at once, each carrying a separate monthly or annual charge. 21. Regardless of the manner in which Defendant enrolls a consumer, the

overwhelming majority of them have no idea they are in the program or will subsequently be charged on a recurring monthly basis. When charges from Defendant do appear on a consumers’ bill, the charges are cryptically written and difficult to identify. 22. Because consumers are unaware that they are being enrolled in a Membership

Program, and because the amount charged by the seller is relatively small, consumers often

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do not discover these charges on their account statements until several months or even years have elapsed. 23. Once consumers discover these unexplained and unauthorized charges, and

contact Defendant to determine their source and demand a refund, Defendant steadfastly denies their claims and, without explanation or proof, contends that they consented to the charges. FACTS RELATING TO PLAINTIFF EVALOUR DIOQUINO 24. In or around May 15, 2011, Plaintiff received a telephone call from a

telemarketer working for or on behalf of Defendant. The telemarketer offered Plaintiff gift cards for gas and Walmart, as well as magazine subscriptions. The telemarketer did not make clear why these items were being offered or the true purpose of the call. 25. Because Plaintiff does not drive often, and because she believed it was

unlikely that the telemarketer would offer several hundred dollars worth of merchandise without an ulterior motive, Plaintiff repeatedly refused the telemarketer’s offers. 26. However, in or around May 29, 2011, Plaintiff noticed an unauthorized

$24.95 debit from her bank account. The debit appeared under the name SEM*Value Plus. 27. Plaintiff did not authorize any person or entity to share her personal bank

information with Defendant. 28. Plaintiff did not agree to or enter into any contract with Defendant. Plaintiff is

not even aware of Defendant’s existence, nor does she have any knowledge of its products and/or services. Defendant does not know why or how she got enrolled in Defendant’s membership program. 29. Plaintiff immediately contacted the telephone number listed next to the charge

to inquire about the basis for the charge, and was told by a customer service representative that she had been charged for Defendant Sempris’s Value Plus Membership Program. Plaintiff denied authorizing enrollment in the program, and requested immediate

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cancellation, as well as a refund of all charges. The customer service representative told Plaintiff that her membership would be discontinued and that she would receive a refund. 30. Plaintiff also contacted her credit union to dispute the unauthorized charge.

Her credit union was unable to issue her a refund. 31. A month later, on or about June 26th, Plaintiff again noticed a $24.95 charge

for SEM*Value Plus on her bank statement. She immediately contacted her credit union again to dispute the unauthorized charge. 32. Defendant. Class Allegations 33. Plaintiff brings this action pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Plaintiff has yet to receive a refund of any of the monies obtained by

23(b)(2) and Rule 23(b)(3) on behalf of herself and a Class and two SubClasses defined as follows: Sempris Class: All individuals who were enrolled in a Sempris/Provell Membership Program and who never contacted any operator of the Membership Program to utilize or otherwise take advantage of the Membership Program Services. Sempris California SubClass: All California residents who were enrolled in a Sempris/Provell Membership Program and who never contacted any operator of the Membership Program to utilize or otherwise take advantage of the Membership Services. Sempris Debit Card SubClass: All individuals who were enrolled in a Sempris/Provell Membership Program and had monthly membership fees debited directly from their bank account, and who never contacted any operator of the Membership Program to utilize or otherwise take advantage of the Membership Services. The following persons are excluded from the Class and SubClasses: 1) any Judge or Magistrate presiding over this action and members of their families; 2) Defendant, Defendant’s subsidiaries, parents, successors, predecessors, and any entity in which the Defendant or its parents have a controlling interest and their current or former employees,

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officers and directors; 3) persons who properly execute and file a timely request for exclusion from the class; and 4) the legal representatives, successors or assigns of any such excluded persons. 34. Hereinafter, the above-described Class and SubClasses may be referred to

collectively as the “Classes.” 35. Numerosity: The exact number of the members of the Classes is unknown

and not available to Plaintiff at this time, but it is clear that individual joinder is impracticable. Defendant has deceived thousands of consumers who fall into the definitions set forth above. Members of the Class and SubClasses can be identified through Defendant’s records. 36. Typicality: Plaintiff’s claims are typical of the claims of other members of

the Classes, as Plaintiff and other members sustained damages arising out of the wrongful conduct of Defendant, based upon the same transactions which were made uniformly with Plaintiff and the public. 37. Adequate Representation: Plaintiff will fairly and adequately represent and

protect the interests of the Classes, and have retained counsel competent and experienced in complex litigation and class actions. Plaintiff has no interest antagonistic to those of the Classes and Defendant has no defenses unique to Plaintiff. 38. Predominance and Superiority: Class proceedings are superior to all other

available methods for the fair and efficient adjudication of this controversy, as joinder of all members is impracticable. The damages suffered by the individual members of the Classes will likely be relatively small, especially given the burden and expense of individual prosecution of the complex litigation necessitated by Defendant’s actions. It would be virtually impossible for the members of the Classes to obtain effective relief from Defendant’s misconduct on an individual basis. Even if members of the Classes themselves could sustain such individual litigation, it would not be preferable to a class action, because

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individual litigation would increase the delay and expense to all parties due to the complex legal and factual controversies presented in this Complaint. By contrast, a class action presents far fewer management difficulties and provides the benefits of single adjudication, economy of scale, and comprehensive supervision by a single court. Economies of time, effort, and expense will be fostered and uniformity of decisions will be ensured. 39. Commonality: There are many questions of law and fact common to the

claims of Plaintiff and the Classes, and those questions predominate over any questions that may affect individual members of the Classes. Common questions for the Classes include, but are not limited to the following: (a) (b) (c) (d) (e) (f) Whether Defendant’s conduct alleged herein constitutes violations of Cal. Civ. Code §§ 1750, et seq.; Whether Defendant’s conduct alleged herein constitutes violations of Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code §§ 17200, et seq.; Whether Defendant’s conduct alleged herein constitutes violations of 15 U.S.C § 1693e, et seq,; Whether Defendant’s conduct alleged herein constitutes unjust enrichment; Whether Defendant’s conduct alleged herein constitutes negligence; Whether Defendant’s conduct alleged herein constitutes fraud by omission. COUNT I Violation of the Consumers Legal Remedies Act Cal. Civ. Code §§ 1750, et seq. (On Behalf of Plaintiff and the Classes) 40. 41. Plaintiff incorporates by reference the foregoing allegations. The Consumers Legal Remedies Act prohibits the act, use or employment by

any person of any deception, fraud, false pretense, false promise, misrepresentation, concealment, suppression or omission of any material fact with intent that others rely upon

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such act in connection with the sale or advertisement of any merchandise whether or not any person has in fact been misled, deceived or damaged thereby. 42. The price of a product is a material term of any transaction and is likely to

affect the choice of, or conduct regarding, whether to purchase a product. Any deception related to the price of a product is materially misleading. 43. Whether a consumer will be enrolled in a monthly recurring negative-option

program is also a material term of any transaction because it too is likely to affect the choice of, or conduct regarding, whether a consumer will assent to enrollment in the program. Because an initial assent may be used to support perpetual billings, negative-option offers are subject to enhanced scrutiny by courts examining such contracts. Any deception related to such an enrollment is materially misleading. 44. Defendant’s omission of material terms of the Membership Programs,

including the negative-option price and term, the account to be charged, and the actions necessary to prevent those charges, is likely to mislead a consumer acting reasonably under the circumstances. 45. Defendant acted in a deceptive manner by making telemarketing calls to

Plaintiff and the members of the Classes and failing to disclose in a clear and conspicuous manner the following terms: (a) the total cost of the purchase; (b) all material restrictions, limitations or conditions related to the purchase and use of the Membership Programs; (c) the termination, cancellation, and refund policies related to the Membership Programs; and, (d) all material terms and conditions applicable to the Membership Programs negative-option enrollment, including the fact that Plaintiff’s and the Classes’ accounts would be continually charged unless such consumers took affirmative action to avoid the charges, the date(s) the funds would be deducted, and the specific steps necessary to avoid the charges. 46. Defendant made telemarketing calls and caused funds to be deducted from

consumers’ bank accounts based on pre-acquired account information maintained by a

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Merchant Partner. Defendant acted in a deceptive manner when: (a) it failed to disclose to the consumers that funds would be charged to and debited from their bank accounts for the Membership Programs and further failed to identify the account(s) from which the charges would be debited, and (b) failed to otherwise obtain Plaintiff and the Classes’ express agreement to be charged for the Membership Programs. 47. As alleged herein, Defendant has engaged in deceptive practices, unlawful

methods of competition, and/or unfair acts as defined by Cal. Civ. Code §§ 1750, et seq., to the detriment of Plaintiff and the Classes. 48. Defendant, acting with knowledge, intentionally and unlawfully brought harm

upon Plaintiff and the Classes by deceptively inducing Plaintiff and the Classes to participate in its Membership Programs. 49. conduct. 50. The injuries of which Plaintiff and the Classes complain are a direct and Defendant intended that Plaintiff and the Classes would rely on its deceptive

proximate result of Defendant’s violations of law and wrongful conduct described herein. 51. Under Cal. Civ. Code § 1780(a) and (b), Plaintiff and the Classes seek

injunctive relief requiring Defendant to cease and desist the illegal conduct alleged in this Complaint, and any other appropriate remedy for violations of the CLRA. For the sake of clarity, Plaintiff explicitly disclaims any claim for damages under the CLRA at this time. COUNT II Violation of California’s Unfair Competition Law Cal. Bus. & Prof. §§ 17200, et seq. (On Behalf of Plaintiff and the Classes) 52. 53. Plaintiff incorporates by reference the foregoing allegations. California’s Unfair Competition Law (“UCL”), Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code §§

17200, et seq., protects both consumers and competitors by promoting fair competition in commercial markets for goods and services.

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54.

The UCL prohibits any unlawful, unfair or fraudulent business act or practice.

A business practice need only meet one of the three criteria to be considered unfair competition. An unlawful business practice is anything that can properly be called a business practice and that at the same time is forbidden by law. A fraudulent business practice is one in which members of the public are likely to be deceived. 55. As described herein, Defendant’s continuing practice of charging and

facilitating the charging of members of the Class’s and Subclass’s credit and debit cards for its Membership Programs without authorization, constitutes a deceptive act or practice in violation of the UCL. 56. The price of a consumer product or service is a material term of any

transaction as it is likely to affect a consumer’s choice of, or conduct regarding, whether to purchase a product or service. Any deception related to the price of a consumer product is materially misleading. 57. Defendant’s omission of the price of the Membership Programs, or the fact

that Plaintiff and the Classes would be charged at all, was an act likely to mislead Plaintiff and members of the Classes acting reasonably under the circumstances and constitutes an unfair and deceptive trade practice in violation of the UCL. 58. Defendant violated the “unfair” prong of the UCL by accepting the members

of the Classes’ confidential billing information without express consent after its Merchant Partners induced members of the Classes to submit the information for an unrelated product or service, and omitted the fact that such information would then be passed on to Sempris and used for purposes of levying unauthorized charges. The injuries caused by Defendant’s conduct are not outweighed by any countervailing benefits to consumers or competition, and the members of the Classes could not have reasonably avoided the injuries they sustained. 59. Defendant knew that Plaintiff and members of the Classes would be unaware

that by submitting their payment information to a third party Merchant Partner, that the

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Merchant Partner would then pass that information to Defendant. 60. Defendant has violated the “unfair” prong of the UCL in that their actions

caused substantial injury to consumers by causing their credit cards to be charged without their consent after inducing them to submit their information through deceptive marketing. The injury caused by Defendant’s conduct is not outweighed by any countervailing benefits to consumers or competition, and the injury is one that consumers themselves could not reasonably have avoided. 61. Defendant has also violated the “fraudulent” prong of the UCL in that their

statements, advertisements, and representations regarding what consumers have consented to be charged for its Membership Programs are false. 62. Defendant has violated the “unlawful” prong of the UCL in that Defendant’s

conduct violated the Consumer Legal Remedies Act (Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code §§ 1750, et seq.) and the Electronic Funds Transfer Act (15 U.S.C § 1693e, et seq.). 63. In refusing all offers made by Defendant, Plaintiff relied on Defendant’s

express and/or implied representation that she would not be charged for any of Defendant’s products. 64. Plaintiff and the Classes have suffered harm as a proximate result of

Defendant’s violations of law and wrongful conduct. 65. Pursuant to Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code §§ 17203, Plaintiff seeks an order of this

Court permanently enjoining Defendant from continuing to engage in unfair and unlawful conduct. Plaintiff seeks an order requiring Defendant to (1) immediately cease the unlawful practices alleged in this Complaint; (2) make full restitution of all funds wrongfully obtained; and (3) pay interest, attorneys’ fees, and costs pursuant to Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 1021.5. COUNT III Violations of the Electronic Funds Transfer Act (15 U.S.C § 1693e) (Individually and on behalf of the Sempris Debit Card SubClass) 66. Plaintiff incorporates by reference the foregoing allegations.

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67.

As described herein, Defendant has initiated electronic transfers of funds for

unauthorized Membership Programs from the bank accounts of Plaintiff and the Debit Card SubClass on a recurring basis, at substantially regular intervals, without first obtaining written authorization from them or providing them with a copy of any such purported authorization. 68. 69. Therefore, Defendant has violated 15 U.S.C. § 1693e. Plaintiff and the members of the Debit Card SubClass have suffered damages

as a result of Defendant’s violations of 15 U.S.C. § 1693e. Accordingly, pursuant to 15 U.S.C. § 1693m, Plaintiff and the members of the Debit Card SubClass seek actual damages, statutory damages, reasonable costs and attorneys’ fees, and an injunction against further violations. COUNT IV Unjust Enrichment (Individually and on behalf of the Classes) 70. 71. Defendant. 72. Defendant knowingly and without authorization charged the credit, debit and Plaintiff incorporates by reference the foregoing allegations. Plaintiff and members of the Classes have no contractual relationship with

other accounts of Plaintiff and the members of the Class for its Membership Programs. 73. As a result, and despite having no valid or legal basis to do so, Defendant

unjustly received and continues to receive a monetary benefit in the form of Membership Program fees charged to those accounts. 74. 75. 76. Defendant appreciates and/or has knowledge of those benefits. Plaintiff and the Class have no adequate remedy at law against Defendant. Under principles of equity and good conscience, Defendant should not be

permitted to retain the money belonging to Plaintiff and the members of the Class that Defendant unjustly received as a result of its unlawful actions.

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77.

Plaintiff, individually and on behalf of the Class, seeks restitution for

Defendant’s unlawful conduct, as well as interest, reasonable costs and attorneys’ fees.

COUNT V Negligence (Individually and on behalf of the Classes) 78. 79. Plaintiff incorporates by reference the foregoing allegations. In acquiring Plaintiff and Class Members’ credit card and bank information,

Defendant had a duty to only place charges on those accounts with the informed and explicit consent of Plaintiff and the members of the Class. 80. By failing to obtain Plaintiff and Class Members’ consent to place charges on

their accounts, Defendant was grossly negligent and departed from all reasonable standards of care. 81. Plaintiff and Class Members’ injury was reasonably foreseeable as Defendant

was aware that it had failed to acquire informed and explicit consent to charge their credit card and bank accounts. 82. Neither Plaintiff nor other Members of the Class contributed to the Defendant

placing unauthorized charges on their accounts. 83. As a direct and proximate result of Defendant’s failure to exercise reasonable

care and its acts of placing charges on Plaintiff and Class Members’ accounts without authorization, Plaintiff and Class Members were injured in the form of monies lost. COUNT VI Fraud by Omission (Individually and on behalf of the Classes) 84. 85. Plaintiff incorporates by reference the foregoing allegations. Based on Defendant’s material omissions, Plaintiff and Class Members did

not reasonably expect to be charged by Defendant for its Membership Programs without authorization.

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86.

Defendant knew that it did not have informed and explicit consent to charge

Plaintiff and Class Members for its Membership Programs. 87. Defendant concealed from and failed to disclose to Plaintiff and Class

Members that it would charge them for its membership programs without consent. 88. Defendant was under a duty to disclose to Plaintiff and the members of the

Class that it intended to charge their accounts for its Membership Programs because: (1) Defendant was in a superior position to know the true state of facts about its possession of Plaintiff’s and Class Members’ credit and bankcard information and the terms of its Membership Programs; (2) Plaintiff and the Class Members could not reasonably have been expected to learn or discover that Defendant was in possession of their account information and that Defendant intended to place charges on those accounts without authorization; and (3) Defendant knew that Plaintiff and the Class Members could not reasonably have been expected to learn or discover that Defendant was in possession of their account information and that Defendant intended to place charges on those accounts without authorization. 89. The facts concealed or not disclosed by Defendant to Plaintiff and the Class

are material in that a reasonable consumer would have considered them to be important in deciding whether to allow access to their billing information and whether to enroll in Defendant’s Membership Programs. 90. detriment. 91. The detriment is evident from the unauthorized charges placed on Plaintiff’s Plaintiff and the Class justifiably relied on the omissions of Defendant to their

and Class Members’ accounts and the monies lost. 92. As a direct and proximate result of Defendant’s misconduct, Plaintiff and the

Class have suffered and will continue to suffer actual damages in the form of monies taken by Defendant.

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CLASS ACTION COMPLAINT

PRAYER FOR RELIEF WHEREFORE, Plaintiff Evalour Dioquino, individually and on behalf of the Classes, requests that the Court enter an Order providing for the following relief: A. Certify this case as a class action on behalf of the Classes defined above, appoint Plaintiff as Class Representative, and appoint her counsel as Class Counsel; B. Declare that Defendant’s actions, as set out above, violate Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code §§ 17200 et seq., Cal. Civ. Code §§ 1750 et seq., 15 U.S.C § 1693e, et seq,; and constitute unjust enrichment, negligence, and fraud by omission. C. Award all economic, monetary, actual, consequential, statutory and compensatory damages caused by Defendant’s conduct, and if the conduct is proven to be willful, award Plaintiff and the Classes exemplary damages; D. Award restitution against Defendant for all money to which Plaintiff and the Classes are entitled in equity; E. Award Plaintiff and the Classes their reasonable litigation expenses and attorneys’ fees; F. Award Plaintiff and the Classes pre- and post-judgment interest, to the extent allowable; G. Enter injunctive and/or declaratory relief as is necessary to protect the interests of Plaintiff and the Classes; and H. Award such other and further relief as equity and justice may require.

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