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Biz ‘Bites:’ Idaho Sen. Harris’ fraudulent $480M invoice

Idaho Sen. Harris’ fraudulent $480M invoice

“Billing a consumer for unordered services is unlawful,” Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden said. “But spontaneously sending a bill for $480 million to a state senator is one of the most unusual things I’ve seen.”

In a case that proves that fact can indeed be stranger than fiction, Eli B. Karabell, an alleged political consultant from St. Louis, Missouri, billed Idaho State Sen. Mark Harris for $480 million for “IP targeting and general caucus retention work for Idaho GOP Majority Slate [sic] Leadership Committee and affiliated PACs,” according to the Attorney General’s office. Harris never requested these services nor were they actually provided.

In April 2021, Harris received a $480 million invoice from Karabell Industries LLC. After Harris told Karabell to drop all contact, Karabell then submitted the invoice to a collection agency. On top of this, included an altered copy of the invoice with a forged signature for Harris. The collection agency recognized the invoice was a fraud and contacted Harris. The Idaho Attorney General sued Karabell in July 2021.

The lawsuit, filed in Ada County District Court, alleged Karabell violated the Idaho Consumer Protection Act and the Idaho Rules of Consumer Protection. Over the next several months, Karabell sent dozens of emails to Wasden and the court, demanding dismissal of the suit.

Karabell lost in court. The Feb. 2 judgment against Karabell requires him to pay the Office of the Attorney General $10,780 in civil penalties and attorney’s fees. It also prohibits him from: sending invoices to Idaho consumers for unordered goods or services, attempting to collect debts in Idaho that consumers do not owe, and advertising or selling goods or services in Idaho or to Idaho consumers.

“I appreciate the Office of the Attorney General, and especially his Consumer Protection Division, for their immediate attention to this unfortunate and alarming emailed invoice I received from Karabell Industries,” Harris said. “Idahoans can be proud of the protection their Attorney General provides to our citizens.”

Chobani introduces new products

Chobani announced two new product lines on Feb. 3. The first is ultra-filtered milk, which is lactose-free. The new milk also has half the sugar and 2.5 times more protein compared to traditional milk. The second product is half & half.  Chobani said in a statement that both items will be made from locally sourced milk and will come in paper-based packaging that is widely recyclable across the United States.

Chobani ultra-filtered milk is made using a special filtration process to help remove lactose and reduce sugar content by half. Chobani is aiming at the $1.7 billion easy-to-digest milk market segment and the $1 billion half & half market segment.

Chobani is a major Idaho employer, with over 7,000 workers in the Gem State. Chobani operates the largest yogurt plant in the United States outside of Twin Falls. The dairy foods company built the $750 million plant in 2012.

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