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Class Accuses New England Mint of Fraud

SAN BERNARDINO (CN) - A class action accuses The New England Mint of defrauding consumers by selling "normal $2 bills at grossly inflated prices." The class claims the company is "tricking consumers into believing that the 'National Park $2 Bills' they sell are unique bills with decorative print produced by the U.S. government and that they are rate. In reality, they are just normal $2 bills that are commonly available, with a cheap sticker placed on one side."

The complaint continues: "In an effort to further deceive consumers ... defendants offer their 'National Park $2 Bills' with another 'free' product, typically a second $2 bill with a 'National Park' sticker. In addition, defendants have artificially 'lowered' the price of their 'products,' only to make an inflated profit by charging excessive and illegal shipping and handling fees, and tricking consumers into thinking they are getting something for free. This practice is illegal."

Named plaintiff Heidi Walker asks the Superior Court to "enjoin the ongoing defrauding of thousands of California consumers by defendants, and to recover the money taken by this deceptive practice."

The class sues The New England Mint, of Connecticut, and its corporate parent, Lippenwald, Inc.

Among the alleged "deceptive and unethical practices" are the defendants' claims that their deal is a "once in a lifetime opportunity," that "$2 bills are among the rarest U.S. currencies," that "these crisp uncirculated $2 bills are not being released through this special offer from the New England Mint," and that they "come with a 'certificate of authenticity.'"

The class claims that the truth is that the "defendants simply place a sticker on normal, common $2 bills." They offer a $2 bill for sale for $10, with a second $2 bill for "free," but charge $5.95 for "shipping and handling" for each bill, so the suckers actually have to pay $21.90, according to the complaint.

The class seeks restitution, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, punitive and statutory damages, and an injunction. It is represented by Scott Ferrell with the Newport Trial Group of Newport Beach.

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