A U.S. district court has halted and frozen the assets of an Orlando, Fla.-based operation that used pre-recorded telephone calls, also known as robocalls, to pitch purportedly free medical alert devices to senior citizens by falsely stating the devices had been purchased for them by a relative or friend.
The defendants allegedly led consumers to believe that the devices were endorsed by various health organizations and that they would not be charged anything before the devices were activated.
The Federal Trade Commission is seeking a court order permanently banning the defendants from engaging in the allegedly fraudulent and illegal conduct, and providing restitution to consumers who were victimized. The defendants include: Worldwide Info Services Inc., also doing business as The Credit Voice; Elite Information Solutions Inc.; Absolute Solutions Group Inc.; Global Interactive Technologies Inc.; Global Service Providers Inc.; Live Agent Response 1 LLC; Arcagen Inc.; American Innovative Concepts Inc.; Unique Information Services Inc.; Michael Hilgar; Gary Martin; and Joseph Settecase.
These telemarketers used illegal robocalls to make a sales pitch that was 100 percent false, said Jessica Rich, director of the Federal Trade Commissions Bureau of Consumer Protection. They lied about the product, about whether health organizations had endorsed it, and about its cost. And all the while, their M.O. was to take advantage of older people's concerns about their health. We're so glad to work with our partners in Florida to stop this fraud.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi added: We will not tolerate unscrupulous individuals targeting the elderly. This company received more than $13 million in commissions since March 2012, and we will do everything in our power to compensate consumers who lost money due to the fraudulent medical alert scheme."
The defendants, according to the complaint, violated the FTC Act, the Commissions Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) and Floridas Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUTPA) by blasting robocalls to senior citizens falsely stating that they were eligible to receive a free medical alert system that was bought for them by a friend, family member or acquaintance. Many of the consumers who received the defendants calls were elderly, live alone and have limited or fixed incomes.
Consumers who pressed one (1) on their phones for more information were transferred to a live representative who allegedly continued the deception by saying that the medical alert systems are recommended by the American Heart Association (AHA), the American Diabetes Association (ADA), and the National Institute on Aging (NIA). In addition, the telemarketers falsely stated that the monthly monitoring fee for the system will be charged only once the medical alert system has been installed and activated.
In reality, the defendants started charging consumers who agreed to receive the system immediately, regardless of whether the system had been activated or not.
Based on this alleged conduct, the joint complaint charges the defendants with misrepresenting a range of facts, including that someone the consumer knows already purchased the system for them, that the defendants medical alert system is endorsed by the AHA, ADA, and NIA, and that consumers will not be charged until the system has been activated.
The complaint also charges the defendants with violating the TSR by making illegal robocalls, including to consumers on the National Do Not Call Registry, and by failing to disclose the callers telephone number or identity.