FTC Moves to Stop Telemarketer Using Phony Caller ID

For Release

A nationwide telemarketer of mortgage loans has been calling people whose numbers are listed on the National Do Not Call Registry, and doing so without identifying itself, according to the Federal Trade Commission, which is seeking civil penalties and an injunction against the telemarketer for violations of the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule. This is the Commission’s first case alleging transmission of false caller ID information.

According to an FTC complaint, Srikanth Venkataraman, formerly of New Jersey, has been doing business as Scorpio Systems, Ltd., selling mortgage loans, refinancing, and other products and services. Scorpio allegedly called numbers on the Do Not Call Registry, failed to transmit its telephone number and name to consumers’ caller identification service, and failed to pay the fee required to access the Registry. The telemarketer transmitted either no caller ID or a phony caller ID – 234-567-8923 – and, as a result, consumers were unable to contact the telemarketer to stop unwanted telemarketing calls.

The Commission vote to authorize staff to file the complaint against Scorpio Systems, Ltd. was 5-0. The complaint was filed at the FTC’s request by the U. S. Department of Justice in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey on April 26, 2006. Assistance in this matter was provided by the FTC’s Southwestern Regional Office.

The FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection is committed to ensuring compliance with the National Do Not Call Registry. To date, the Bureau has brought 26 law enforcement actions for various DNC-related violations. Consumers can register their phone number on the Registry either online at www.donotcall.gov or by calling toll-free 1-888-382-1222 (TTY 1-866-290-4236) from the number they wish to register.

NOTE: The Commission authorizes the filing of a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. The complaint is not a finding or ruling that the defendant actually has violated the law. The case will be decided by the court.

Copies of the legal documents associated with these cases are available from the FTC’s Web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish (bilingual counselors are available to take complaints), or to get free information on any of 150 consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357), or use the complaint form at http://www.ftc.gov/ftc/complaint.htm. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to thousands of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

Contact Information

Media Contact:

Mitchell J. Katz,
Office of Public Affairs
202-326-2161

Frank Dorman,
Office of Public Affairs
202-326-2674

Staff Contact:

Stephen L. Cohen,
Bureau of Consumer Protection
202-326-3222