The head of an operation that allowed telemarketers to make robocalls offering credit card services, hide Caller ID information and call numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry is permanently banned from telemarketing and robocalling under a settlement with the federal government.

The Department of Justice filed a complaint against Joseph Turpel in November 2011 alleging he sold services to telemarketers who violated the FTC's Telemarketing Sales Rule. The complaint alleged that Turpel knew, or consciously avoided knowing, that clients used his services while calling numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry, transmitting inaccurate caller ID information and making illegal prerecorded telemarketing solicitations.

Along with banning Turpel from telemarketing and robocalling, the settlement imposes a $395,000 civil penalty that is suspended based on his inability to pay. The full penalty will become due immediately if Turpel is found to have misrepresented his financial condition.

Turpel’s clients offered credit card services, home security systems and grant procurement programs, according to the complaint. He allegedly gave clients the means to hide their identity by transmitting inaccurate caller names, such as “SERVICE MESSAGE” or “SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT,” on caller ID displays.

The Department of Justice filed the complaint on behalf of the Federal Trade Commission in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The cases against two other defendants named in the original complaint, Sonkei Communications Inc. and Peter J. Turpel, have not yet been resolved.

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