The Department of Justice has filed a complaint on behalf of the Federal Trade Commission alleging that a network of companies and individual defendants facilitated tens of millions of robocalls.
The alleged robocalls included Voice Over Internet Protocol and ringless voicemail calls advertising debt relief services that authorities contend were misrepresented.
Firstly, Stratics Networks, Netlatitude, and Netlatitude’s president Kurt Hannigan are accused in the suit filed Friday of providing significant technological assistance to the accused telemarketers.
From 2013 to at least 2020, Stratics is accused of selling wholesale session initiation protocol termination service to VOIP providers, including Netlatitude, as well as selling access to its ringless voicemail platform. Authorities contend that Stratics continued to do this despite notification that some of their customers were breaking the law with robocalls.
SIP termination is a process by which a phone call is sent from one provider to another. Netlatitude is accused of using the SIP termination service they purchased to operate their own ringless voicemail services sold to the telemarketers, according to an FTC announcement.
The telemarketers, authorities allege, “called consumers with robocalls delivering prerecorded marketing messages, called numbers listed on the National Do Not Call Registry, and failed to truthfully identify the seller of the goods and services being marketed,” according to a DOJ announcement.
“This case targets the ecosystem of companies who perpetrate illegal telemarketing to cheat American consumers who are struggling financially. The FTC will continue to take aggressive action to protect consumers from the scourge of illegal robocalls,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.
Also, Atlas Marketing Partners, Atlas Investment Ventures, Tek Ventures, co-owners of those three companies Eric Petersen and Todd DiRoberto, the Kasm company and its owner Kenan Azzeh are each accused of misrepresenting the nature and outcomes of their debt relief services.
The defendants are alleged to have called consumers without first obtaining consent, and to have failed to properly identify the seller of the debt relief services on these calls.
Mr. Petersen, Mr. DiRoberto, their companies, and two other defendants, Ace Business Solutions and owner Sandra Barnes, are further accused of requesting and taking payment from debt relief customers without renegotiation or alteration of those customers’ loans.
“The Department of Justice is committed to stopping individuals and companies from making illegal robocalls and peddling predatory debt relief services,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian Boynton.
Of the telemarketing defendants, two, Kasm and owner Mr. Azzeh, have agreed to a prospective settlement in court for $3.38 million. If the defendants avoid future violations, then that figure is reduced to $7,500, to be used for consumer redress, given their inability to pay the full $3.38 million.
For the other defendants, authorities are seeking injunctions to prevent future violations of federal law, as well as civil penalties and redress to affected consumers.