The Federal Trade Commission took action against a pair of "massive" robocall telemarketing scams that prompted several defendants to agree to (1) a permanent ban from making robocalls and (2) a payment of more than $500,000 to the Commission.
A number of defendants were named in the two FTC complaints, led by ringleaders Justin Ramsey and Aaron Michael Jones. Together with their former business partners and various corporate entities, the defendants made billions of robocalls between 2009 and 2016 in a campaign to sell home security systems, extended auto warranties and search engine optimization services, and to generate leads for companies selling those goods and services. Calls were often made to numbers listed on the Do Not Call (DNC) Registry, the agency added.
For example, in just one week in July 2012, the Ramsey defendants made more than 1.3 million illegal calls to consumers across the country, according to the complaint, 80% of which were to numbers listed on the DNC Registry. Similarly, the Jones defendants made more than 329 million robocalls to consumers in all 50 states during the first three months of 2014, including 32 million calls to numbers listed on the DNC Registry.
The FTC filed suit against the Ramsey defendants in Florida federal court and the Jones group in California, citing violations of the Federal Trade Commission Act and the Telemarketing Sales Rule.
Although litigation continues against Ramsey and Jones themselves—who are already the target of several actions filed by state Attorneys General—several of the other defendants reached agreements with the FTC. In the Ramsey action, two former business partners and three companies are now banned from making robocalls and are subject to a $1.4 million suspended judgment, based on their inability to pay. Seven of the nine individuals and one company who are defendants in the Jones case agreed to a ban on robocalling and a $9.9 million judgment, with all but $510,000 suspended.
To read the complaint and orders in FTC v. Ramsey, click here.
To read the complaint and orders in FTC v. Jones, click here.
Why it matters: "The law is clear about robocalls—if a telemarketer doesn't have consumers' written permission, it's illegal to make these calls," Jessica Rich, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. "The FTC will continue working hard to put a stop to telemarketers who ignore the law."