You probably know a senior who has gotten a call in automated pre-recorded (robocalls) format promising “medical monitoring.” Hopefully, you’re aware that it’s a scam and have told the senior to simply hang up. Unfortunately, not everyone was so lucky to be forewarned, and this particular scam has netted fraudsters about $13 million, by some estimates.
The scam goes like this: the phone rings, and a recorded voice attempts to scare seniors by warning them of a “significant rise in the number of senior citizens suffering death and serious life-threatening injuries from a delay in response times for medical emergencies, fires, burglaries or even a simple fall.” Alternatively, it may tell seniors that a friend or family member recommended them for the service. The voice then urges the senior to provide his or her billing information to a live agent in exchange for “monitoring services” that cost $35 a month. If the individual agrees, his or her credit card is charged immediately, before any such “device” arrives.
In some cases, fraudsters working the scam have provided suspicious call recipients with a fake address in Orlando for the company’s supposed “headquarters.” Some scammers also falsely claimed to be affiliated with United Health.
This week, however, the fraudsters suffered a blow when investigators say a U.S. district court said it has shut down – at least temporarily – 13 individuals and companies engaging in this scam. In a joint complaint filed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC (News - Alert)) and the Office of the Florida Attorney General, the district court has temporarily halted and frozen the assets of an Orlando-based operation, according to the FTC, and 13 entities related to it.
The two agencies are using the joint complaint as a springboard to create a court order that will permanently ban the defendants from continuing with the scam and order them to return victims’ money.
“These telemarketers used illegal robocalls to make a sales pitch that was 100 percent false,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “They lied about the product, about whether health organizations had endorsed it, and about its cost. And all the while, their M.O. was to take advantage of older people's concerns about their health. We're so glad to work with our partners in Florida to stop this fraud.”
According to the court, the defendants’ activities violated a number of laws, including the FTC Act, the Commission’s Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR (News - Alert)), and Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUTPA). The complaint also accuses the defendants of lying to callers and making illegal robocalls.
The 13 defendants in the complaint include Worldwide Info Services, Inc. (d/b/a) The Credit Voice; Elite Information Solutions Inc., d/b/a The Credit Voice; Absolute Solutions Group Inc., d/b/a The Credit Voice; Global Interactive Technologies, Inc., d/b/a The Credit Voice Inc.; Global Service Providers, Inc.; 6) The Credit Voice, Inc., d/b/a TCV; Live Agent Response 1 LLC, d/b/a LAR; Arcagen, Inc., d/b/a ARI; American Innovative Concepts, Inc.; Unique Information Services Inc.; Michael Hilgar; Gary Martin; and Joseph Settecase.