An Orlando-based operation that allegedly bilked seniors by using pre-recorded robocalls to sell supposedly free medical alert systems has agreed to shut down to settle charges brought by the Federal Trade Commission and the Florida attorney general's office.
The settlement bans the defendants from making robocalls, prohibits telemarketing activities and prohibits them from making misrepresentations related to the sale of any product or service. The order includes a judgment of an estimated $23 million, most of which will be suspended after the defendants surrender assets including cash, cars and a boat.
According to the joint agency complaint, the defendants violated the FTC Act, the FTC's Telemarketing Sales Rule and Floridas Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act 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 or family member. Many of the consumers who received the defendants calls were elderly, live alone and have limited or fixed incomes.
The defendants include: 1) Worldwide Info Services Inc., doing business as The Credit Voice; 2) Elite Information Solutions Inc., d/b/a The Credit Voice; 3) Absolute Solutions Group Inc., d/b/a The Credit Voice; 4) Global Interactive Technologies Inc., d/b/a The Credit Voice; 5) Global Service Providers Inc.; 6) Arcagen Inc., d/b/a ARI; 7) American Innovative Concepts Inc.; 8) Unique Information Services Inc.; 9) National Life Network Inc., and their principals 10) Michael Hilgar; 11) Gary Martin; 12) Joseph Settecase; and 13) Yuluisa Nieves.
One defendant, Live Agent Response 1 LLC, d/b/a LAR, has not settled, and the FTC and Florida AG are seeking a default judgment against it.
Consumers who pressed one (1) on their phones for more information were transferred to a live representative who falsely stated that the medical alert systems are recommended by the American Heart Association, the American Diabetes Association and the National Institute on Aging.
The telemarketers falsely claimed that the $34.95 monthly monitoring fee would be charged only after the system has been installed and activated. In reality, consumers were charged immediately, regardless of whether the system was activated or not.
The court order settling the agencies charges also imposes a judgment of $22.9 million, the total amount consumers paid for monthly monitoring services for their medical alert devices. The judgment will be suspended as to all of the settling defendants once the individual defendants turn over cash and other assets valued at about $79,000 - including $24,000 that was transferred in violation of a court-ordered asset freeze.
Assets to be sold include a 2008 BMW, a 1984 Hans Christian sailboat, a 2004 Mercedes and a 2008 Lincoln Navigator. Defendant Joseph Settecase is subject to a second judgment of $39,300, which will not be suspended. This judgment reflects the funds that Settecase retained after selling his Ferrari in violation of the asset freeze and transferring a portion of the proceeds to another defendant.
"We must do everything within our power to protect Floridas consumers. The scheme we have stopped allegedly targeted Floridas senior citizens, and we, along with our Federal Trade Commission partners, have held these individuals accountable, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.