CEDAR RAPIDS — A Palo woman who discovered her elderly parents were spending thousands of dollars on supplements telemarketers said would address a wide range of health problems never doubted she would recover the funds.
“I did because of the type of person I am,” Karla Sibert said Thursday. “I’m very determined. That’s a lot of money. They can’t afford that.”
Earlier this year, Sibert discovered her parents, Karl and Marlene Sibert of Cedar Rapids, were charged more than $44,000 over 20 months for health and nutrition-related products by Las Vegas-based Leading Health Source when her mother was hospitalized. While her mother was in surgery, Sibert answered her phone and took four calls from the company in about 20 minutes.
She then discovered boxes of supplements at her parents’ home and learned of the credit card charges.
“When you start hearing $21,500 in three days, you gulp, and then you call another (credit card company) and get $13,000 and $9,000 on another one,” Sibert said. “At that point, I needed to be institutionalized.”
It was then Sibert contacted the Iowa Office of Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at an Iowa Fraud Fighters event at Kirkwood Community College. She then filed a formal complaint, Attorney General Tom Miller said at a Cedar Rapids news conference Thursday.
He expected an Iowa judge to enter an order Thursday barring Leading Health Source from doing business in the state. The company has complied with his office’s demand that it “pay back every dime to this Iowa couple as a condition of our settlement.”
Investigators determined Leading Health Source was aware of the Siberts’ vulnerabilities. They discovered telemarketers’ handwritten notes indicating Sibert’s mother had “memory” issues and her father had “dementia,” Miller said.
Sibert described her mother as “simple, but trusts everybody, and they preyed on her.”
“That’s a lot of money. They can’t afford that,” she said, adding her parents “have no idea of the magnitude of what this has done.”
Leading Health Source sold the couple thousands of pills, including Brain Power, Calcium Pyruvale, Cha de Bugre, Fat Burner, Garcinia Cambogia Extract, Green Coffee, High Fusion, Hoodia, Liq-Eye, Marine Phytoplankton, Pure Raspberry Ketones, VitaFuse and Real O2.
According to Miller, Leading Health Source initially resisted requests for refunds, claiming that the elderly couple’s extremely large purchase volume occurred because they were “distributors.” He called the claim absurd.
Sibert has received a check from the company for more than $23,000 and the remainder of the credit card charges have been reversed, she said.
In pursuing the settlement, her goal was not only to make her parents whole but to protect other elderly Iowans, Sibert said.
Miller estimated about 100 Iowans were charged by Leading Health Source over a two-year period, but as far as he knows, the Siberts were the only Iowans with substantial losses.