A Houston-based telemarketing company has agreed to stop doing business in Utah under pressure from state officials.

Tri-Star International Inc. has paid the state a $1,500 fine for conducting illegal telemarketing activities in Utah and has sent refund checks of $399, $598, and $5,000 to the state as reimbursement to Utahns who complained they had been duped.The company contacted Utahns and told them they'd won cash or merchandise prizes. To receive their prizes, the victims were told they needed to send money to hold their winnings or to cover taxes, according to Francine Giani, division director.

Giani said she will encourage Texas officials responsible for regulating telemarketing operations like Tri-Star "to shut them down permanently."

Ogden resident Connie Price was targeted by Tri-Star's telemarketing techniques but tape-recorded key conversations with a salesman. She eventually sent the company a noncashable check for $998 dated "Twelfth of Never" and signed "Not a sucker."

A Tri-Star official later said the company was legitimate and planned to obey state law by filing registration papers and posting a $70,000 performance bond.

Neither the registration documents nor the performance bond was ever received, Giani said.

Tri-Star customer-service manager David Rice said Tuesday the firm still plans to register with the state to do telemarketing in Utah, but added, "It will take us awhile to raise the $70,000 capital" for the performance bond.