Telemarketer Must Pay $6M to Settle FTC Claim

     ORLANDO, Fla. (CN) – A telemarketer involved in a medical alert scheme targeting senior citizens must pay more than $6 million in penalties, a federal judge ruled.
     U.S. District Judge Carlos Mendoza entered a default order against Live Agent Response 1 LLC, one of 15 defendants accused of using pre-recorded phone calls to deceive senior citizens in Florida.
     The FTC and the state of Florida sued Live Agent and 14 other companies and individuals in Federal Court last year, alleging violations of the FTC Act, federal telemarketing sales rules and Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.
     The defendants used pre-recorded calls, commonly known as robocalls, to pitch purportedly “free” medical alert devices to senior citizens, claiming that the devices had been purchased for them by a relative or friend.
     The defendants also allegedly led consumers to believe that the devices were endorsed by various health organizations, such as the American Heart Association, and that they would not be charged any “monthly monitoring fees” before the devices were activated, according to the lawsuit.
     In fact, the defendants started charging consumers who agreed to receive the system immediately, regardless of whether the system had been activated or not, the complaint said.
     Florida and the FTC claimed that the defendants not only misrepresented facts, but also made illegal robocalls, including to consumers on the National Do Not Call Registry, and failed to disclose the caller’s telephone number or identity.
     In January 2014, the U.S. District Court in Orlando entered a temporary restraining order, freezing the defendants’ assets and appointing a temporary receiver over their business.
     Judge Mendoza ruled last week that the plaintiffs were entitled to default judgment against Live Agent Response 1, which has failed to appear or file a response to the lawsuit.
     Live agent must pay nearly $6.7 million in penalties, according to a judgment the court entered Wednesday. The award represents a portion of the total $22.9 million consumer injury alleged in the lawsuit. Live Agent’s deadline for payment is today, March 13.
     The court also banned Live Agent from engaging in telemarketing and other activities alleged in the complaint.
     Live Agent must cooperate with the appointed receiver and submit compliance reports to the Commission regarding certain changes for the next 20 years, according to Mendoza’s March 6 ruling.
     The judge said Florida and the FTC must serve the default judgment order on Live Agent.
     The court dismissed the case, finding that no claims remained after the default judgment against Live Agent. Claims against 13 other defendants were resolved in a separate order in November and one other defendant was voluntarily dismissed.

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