Adli Dasuqi and his companies, American Handicapped Inc. and American Handicapped and Disadvantaged Workers Inc., agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they tricked consumers into buying household products on the pretext that the proceeds would go to help disabled people. The defendants will be banned from making similar claims in the future.
The defendants’ telemarketers allegedly cold-called consumers to sell them light bulbs, trash bags and cleaning products and to seek charitable donations in return for a free gift. The telemarketers claimed that they represented a charitable organization that employed disabled persons or that the callers themselves were disabled, according to the FTC's complaint.
The defendants also allegedly shipped merchandise without consumers' consent and then falsely told consumers that they owed money for the unordered merchandise. The defendants charged inflated prices for the merchandise, such as $30 for two light bulbs and $100 for 60 trash bags, according to the complaint. Dasuqi received consumer complaints from the Arizona Better Business Bureau and law enforcers in Iowa, Minnesota and other states but failed to stop the scheme, the FTC alleged.
The final order bans the defendants from selling anything for the purported benefit of disabled persons, prohibits them from mischaracterizing their employees and their charity involvement, prohibits untrue claims that anyone has ordered and agreed to pay for products, and bars misrepresentations of material facts about any good or service. The defendants also are prohibited from violating the Telemarketing Sales Rule and the Unordered Merchandise Statute, and from profiting from customers’ personal information and failing to dispose of it properly.
The order imposes a $4 million judgment that will be suspended because of the defendants’ inability to pay. The full judgment will become due immediately if they are found to have misrepresented their financial condition.