DENVER—The Colorado Attorney General’s Office, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and nine other state attorneys general, announced a $500,000 settlement to resolve state and federal violations of no-call laws. Billions of illegal robocalls were made on behalf of Caribbean Cruise Line (CCL) that generated millions of dollars in illegal cruise vacation sales.
“Approximately 1.8 billion robocalls were placed to consumers in violation of Colorado and federal do-not-call laws,” said Colorado Attorney General Cynthia H. Coffman. “My office just issued our annual Top 10 Consumer Complaint announcement, and fraudulent and unwanted phone calls ranked number five on our list. This settlement with Caribbean Cruise Line is proof that when consumers stand up and report fraud, state and federal government agencies work together to protect them.”
Between October 2011 and July 2012, the defendants placed approximately 12 to 15 million illegal sales calls per day. When a consumer answered, they heard a pre-recorded message supposedly from “John from Political Opinions of America.” “John” told them they had been “carefully selected” to participate in a 30-second research survey, after which, they could “press one” to receive a two-day cruise to the Bahamas. By pressing one, the consumer was next connected to a telemarketer working on behalf of Caribbean Cruise Line and sold cruise vacations, pre-boarding hotels, cruise excursions, upgraded accommodations and other travel packages.
The lawsuit alleges that illegal robocalls were placed that generated sales leads for CCL. The complaint additionally charges five interrelated companies, Telephone Management Corporation, T M Caller ID, LLC; Pacific Telecom Communications Group, International Telephone Corporation and International Telephone, LLC, as well as owner, Fred Accuardi, with assisting and facilitating the illegal cruise calls. The defendants provided robocallers with hundreds of telephone numbers used to make calls and made it possible for robocallers to change the names that appeared on caller ID devices and displays. That masked the true identity of the caller from both consumers and authorities. In addition, the Accuardi defendants helped fund the robocallers by sharing fees that were generated by accessing caller ID names.
Under terms of the settlement, CCL, Linked Service Solutions LLC, and its owners Scott Broomfield and Jason Birkett, as well as Economic Strategy LLC, and its owner, Jacob deJongh, are barred from abusive telemarketing practices, including calling consumers whose phone numbers are on no-call registries. The defendants also agreed to stop calling anyone who previously said they did not want to be called again. In addition the settlement prohibits the parties from transmitting inaccurate caller ID information and placing illegal robocalls. The settlement requires CCL to regularly monitor its lead generators and to terminate relationships with any companies that violate the telemarketing sales rules. Litigation against Fred Accuardi and the five companies charged with assisting and facilitating the illegal conduct alleged in the complaint continues.
Coloradans are encouraged to enroll their phone and fax numbers on the Colorado No Call List and report fraudulent or unwanted telephone calls and faxes.