On February 6, 2017, Mega Byte Information (“Mega Byte”) was sentenced by the Court of Québec and fined $450,000 after pleading guilty to operating a deceptive telemarketing scheme that sold subscriptions to online directories using misleading sales techniques. In addition to the fine, Georges Haligua, the president of Mega Byte, is prohibited from engaging in telemarketing for 10 years.
The telemarketing calls were made to businesses in Canada, the United States, Central America and Europe. The calls used selling techniques designed to mislead by making false representations, including that the telemarketing company was the business’ regular supplier and / or that the order was preauthorized by someone else at the company.
Mega Byte was one of four Montreal-based companies overseen by Haligua investigated by the Competition Bureau and subsequently charged in September 2011 in connection with making misleading representations and engaging in a deceptive advertising telemarketing scheme that generated gross sales of more than $172 million. The other four individuals charged in connection with the scheme pleaded guilty and were sentenced in 2015.
This case is a reminder to telemarketers and companies who engage telemarketers that telemarketing calls to businesses, not just to consumers, may be considered misleading or deceptive and captured under the criminal provisions of the Competition Act.