On June 25, the Federal Trade Commission announced a partnership with law enforcement to target illegal robocalls, including 94 actions aimed at operations around the nation that are responsible for more than a billion robocalls. “Operation Call it Quits” is aimed at reducing the number of pre-recorded telemarketing calls and includes new information aimed at educating consumers, as well as promoting the development of technological solutions to block robocalls and prevent caller ID spoofing.
“We’re all fed up with the tens of billions of illegal robocalls we get every year,” said Andrew Smith, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection in an FTC press release. The “joint effort shows that combatting this scourge remains a top priority for law enforcement agencies around the nation.”
“Operation Call it Quits” includes enforcement actions at both the federal and the state levels, with four new FTC cases, three new settlements in existing FTC cases, 87 new law enforcement actions, and 45 new law enforcement partners. The U.S. Attorneys’ Offices in the Northern District of Georgia, the Middle District of Florida, and the Southern District of Texas have contributed to five criminal actions. In addition, enforcement actions at the state and local levels were announced from the attorneys general for Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia; the Consumer Protection Divisions of the District Attorneys for the counties of Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside, and Santa Clara, California; the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services; and the Los Angeles City Attorney.
As part of “Operation Call it Quits,” civil cases were filed in federal court against:
- First Choice Horizon LLC, accused of using illegal robocalls to contact financially distressed consumers with offers of credit card interest rate reduction services;
- 8 Figure Dream Lifestyle, accused of using a combination of illegal telemarketing robocalls, live telephone calls, text messages, internet ads, emails, social media, and live events to market and sell allegedly fraudulent money-making opportunities to consumers;
- Derek Jason Bartoli, accused of developing, operating, and providing a computer-based telephone dialing platform to perform millions of illegal robocalls and calls to numbers listed on the Do-Not-Call Registry. The FTC alleges that Bartoli sent more than 57 million calls to registered phone numbers in the latter half of 2017; and
- Media Mix 365, LLC, accused of calling millions of numbers on the Do-Not-Call Registry since 2015 for the purpose of developing leads for home solar energy companies.
The FTC also announced settlements with Lifewatch, Inc.; Redwood Scientific; and Life Management Services, imposing judgments of $25.3 million, $18.2 million, and $23.1 million, respectively.
“Every year, our office gets more consumer complaints about unwanted robocalls than just about any other issue,” said Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill. “At best, these calls represent a nuisance for families just wanting to enjoy peace and privacy without needless disturbances interrupting their routines. At worst, they represent scams that successfully steal people’s identities or hard-earned money. In Indiana, we are quite serious about stopping illegal robocalls, and our alliances with such partners as the FTC will prove a valuable asset in this mission.”