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FTC Busts Internet Crammers

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - Several Internet companies duped people into paying for services by cramming the charges onto their phone bills, the Federal Trade Commission claims in Federal Court. Defendants include INC21 Corp., GlobalYP, and JumPage Solutions.

The companies offer Web site design, advertising and Internet-based fax services, and use third-party telemarketers to make unsolicited calls "stating that the purpose of the call is to verify or update business information without informing consumers that the call also involves an offer of Internet services," according to the complaint.

Regardless of whether people declined the offer or simply "verified" their contact information, the companies then used the people's billing information to charge their local phone bills without their knowledge, the FTC says.

In some instances, the FTC says, the telemarketers "would offer consumers a fifteen-day trial of their Internet services," and "fail to disclose that consumers must take specific affirmative steps to cancel the services to avoid automatically being charged upon expiration of the free trial period."

The monthly charges ranged from $12.95 to $39.95.

The FTC says INC21 and other Internet companies also made audio recordings of consumer calls supposedly showing that people had agreed to purchase their services, but in many cases, the FTC claims, these recordings were "falsified or altered to misrepresent the call as a whole."

"In other instances, the voices on the recordings do not belong to the particular consumers who were purportedly on the calls," the complaint states. The defendants made tens of thousands of dollars this way, the FTC says.

The FTC seeks disgorgement, restitution and injunctions.

The defendants are, Inc21,, Inc21 Communications, GlobalYP, NetOpus, MetroYP, JumPage Solutions.,, GST U.S.A., Roy Yu Lin, John Yu Lin, and Sheng Lin.

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