FTC shuts down four robocall companies with multimillion dollar fines

Cal Jeffrey

TS Evangelist
Staff member

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been busy this week. In addition to its notice of an investigation into the privacy practices of broadband providers, the commission announced yesterday it had settled lawsuits with four robocall operations.

NetDotSolutions, Higher Goals Marketing, Veterans of America, and Pointbreak Media, all agreed to shut down and pay fines as part of their settlements. The penalties ranged from $500,000 up to $3.64 million per defendant. Operators of the businesses are also banned from opening or running other similar companies.

According to the FTC press release, all four operations were engaged in or facilitated fraudulent activity. The companies reportedly bilked billions from consumers and businesses.

NetDotSolutions had a robocalling platform called “TelWeb,” which is sold or licensed to other telemarketing firms including fraudulent debt-relief services. It was charged with facilitating illegal robocalls, calling people on the Do Not Call registry, and spoofing caller IDs. The company owners were fined in total $1.4 million with $5.35 million suspended due to inability to pay.

"Four separate operations responsible for bombarding consumers nationwide with billions of unwanted and illegal robocalls pitching auto warranties, debt-relief services, home security systems, fake charities, and Google search results services have agreed to settle with the FTC."

Higher Goals Marketing operated a fake debt-relief service and had previously been shut down by a court order under a different name. It was fined $3.15 million, which the FTC will suspend once the company turns over all of its assets.

Veterans of America was a charity scam that solicited vehicle donations for veterans. The items never went to charity but were sold for profit. The scam operated under at least six other aliases including Vehicles for Veterans, Medal of Honor, and Donate That Car LLC. The owner was fined $541,032.10, which will be suspended upon relinquishing “significant assets” including 88 vehicles to the FTC.

Pointbreak Media was a Florida-based scam that would call businesses claiming that it represented Google. Of course, the company was not affiliated with Google whatsoever.

It would “inform” victims that their companies were about to be removed from search results. Telemarketers would tell firms that fell for the ruse that they could stop the removal and guarantee first-page placement for payments ranging from $300-$700. They further threatened that if payment were not made, the businesses would be marked “permanently closed.”

Three operators in the scam were fined a total of $12.72 million with the highest penalty being $3.64 million. Defendants can have the fines suspended after handing over assets to the FTC totaling a fraction of the amounts imposed.

While shutting down four robocall scams is only a drop in the bucket for addressing a rising problem, at least it’s a start. Perhaps other companies operating similar shady telemarketing services will get the hint and take their money and run. However, greed is a powerful force, so don’t hold your breath that this problem will go away any time soon.

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yRaz

Nigerian Prince
I have noticed a reduction in robo calls lately. Down from 2-3 an hour to around 4-5 a day.
 
SO whats the point of imposing large fines if they can just avoid them by surrendering their assets ?

Seems to me that since they bilked people/companies out of lots of cash, they should have to pay AND surrender AND be F*O*R*E*V*E*R banned from working for or starting any kind of phone/internet/data type of business PERIOD....

perhaps that would send the correct message to other shady scammer *******s who do this crap (repeatedly) for a living....
 

BlackCatRokusho

TS Rookie
If they bilked billions from the public and companies.. why are they being fined so little?

If you made billions and you only have to pay out millions.. why would you not just consider that a cost of business and perform the actions in a more roundabout way?
 

kmo911

TS Booster
Just use www.telefonterror.no and of.c your contry telephoneterror.us and so on smartphone.
 

wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
Seems to me that since they bilked people/companies out of lots of cash, they should have to pay AND surrender AND be F*O*R*E*V*E*R banned from working for or starting any kind of phone/internet/data type of business PERIOD....
From the article...
Operators of the businesses are also banned from opening or running other similar companies.
 

wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
Yeah. I was wondering the exact same thing as I read the press release.
Assuming things are the way they sound, all of the companies and the people operating them are pretty much bankrupt at this time.

In my eyes, jail time would be the equivalent of setting them up in a hotel and may, in many ways, be actually easier on them than what they are facing now especially if some of them will be homeless because they have had all their assets taken.

I've heard stories of people being released from jail committing crimes again so that they would go back to jail because being on the outside was much harder for them. Its enough to give me at least some pause...
 
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wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
From the article...
Operators of the businesses are also banned from opening or running other similar companies.
This simply doesn't work for the people who are, frankly, really good at this. Head to another state, use a fake name, do it all over again.
And, of course, get caught again eventually. However, my bet is that if they did get caught again, they would not be given the opportunity of freedom.
 

jpuroila

TS Booster
From the article...
Operators of the businesses are also banned from opening or running other similar companies.
This simply doesn't work for the people who are, frankly, really good at this. Head to another state, use a fake name, do it all over again.
And, of course, get caught again eventually. However, my bet is that if they did get caught again, they would not be given the opportunity of freedom.
Don't be silly. Thanks to *****ic laws allowing corporations to be punished, they can do it over and over again with no negative consequences to themselves.
 

wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
From the article...
Operators of the businesses are also banned from opening or running other similar companies.
This simply doesn't work for the people who are, frankly, really good at this. Head to another state, use a fake name, do it all over again.
And, of course, get caught again eventually. However, my bet is that if they did get caught again, they would not be given the opportunity of freedom.
Don't be silly. Thanks to *****ic laws allowing corporations to be punished, they can do it over and over again with no negative consequences to themselves.
You may want to think that, however, I suggest that you read this: https://smallbusiness.chron.com/can-business-owner-held-personally-liable-illegal-activities-company-75781.html
In short, if the corporate or limited-liability head is engaging in illegal activity, such as in this case, they can be held liable.
 

captaincranky

TechSpot Addict
....[ ]....I've heard stories of people being released from jail committing crimes again so that they would go back to jail because being on the outside was much harder for them. Its enough to give me at least some pause...
Well, of someone does a "ten year bit", that's plenty of time for them to develop an "extended family", find "gainful" (albeit forced) employment, develop friendships with people who no doubt have "similar backgrounds and interests". Being a known and predictable commodity, also allows additional respect from prison staff.

In their daily loves, they can becomes "teachers", and "guidance counselors", .to incoming younger inmates. They tell me being a parent and teacher are both very rewarding avocations. (Letting someone know that you know more than they do, and informing them you willing to share it with them, (IMHO), could be one of the biggest ego massages available).

Free society doesn't offer much in the way of a welcome to former inmates. The former prisoner has to start at day one of his or her "free life sentence", with all its trials and tribulations, which can be much more daunting than remaining in a already mastered environment.

I believe the standardized term for this phenomenon categorizes the individual as, "institutionalized".

In my neighborhood, I've always opined, that you have to do a nickel to be hired as a hot tar roofer, which should serve to illustrate the limited opportunities a former inmate encounters, and the social status of roofers as well.

But hell, it likely that a former inmate could have trouble getting a job as a trash man, given the hiring stipulations of any given municipality.
 
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wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
Well, of someone does a "ten year bit", that's plenty of time for them to develop an "extended family", find "gainful" (albeit forced) employment, develop friendships with people who no doubt have "similar backgrounds and interests". Being a known and predictable commodity, also allows additional respect from prison staff.

In their daily loves, they can becomes "teachers", and "guidance counselors", .to incoming younger inmates. They tell me being a parent and teacher are both very rewarding avocations. (Letting someone know that you know more than they do, and informing them you willing to share it with them, (IMHO), could be one of the biggest ego massages available).

Free society doesn't offer much in the way of a welcome to former inmates. The former prisoner has to start at day one of his or her "free life sentence", with all its trials and tribulations, which can be much more daunting than remaining in a already mastered environment.

I believe the standardized term for this phenomenon categorizes the individual as, "institutionalized".

In my neighborhood, I've always opined, that you have to do a nickel to be hired as a hot tar roofer, which should serve to illustrate the limited opportunities a former inmate encounters, and the social status of roofers as well.

But hell, it likely that a former inmate could have trouble getting a job as a trash man, given the hiring stipulations of any given municipality.
I am right there with you. I cannot say that I would want to be in a position of having gotten out only to want back in.

I think were on the bounds of those societal systemic problems we both opine about from time to time...
 

nestorius

TS Enthusiast
The problem is the big telephone companies make money by allowing spoofing. Fin these deep pockets until they hurt and spoofing leading to scamming disappears overnight. Then the Feds can get off their asses and enforce the Do Not Call Registry! Put teeth that eat the entire as$%(*e into the law and clean this problem up now!