FTC Charges Telemarketers with Enabling Illegal Robocalling

Allegedly Provided Technology for Clients to Violate the Do Not Call Registry, Mask Caller ID

For Release

As part of its ongoing efforts to crack down on illegal pre-recorded robocalls, the Federal Trade Commission is taking action against an operation that allegedly helped clients make illegal robocalls, call phone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry, and mask Caller ID information, in violation of the FTC's Telemarketing Sales Rule. This conduct generated tens of thousands of complaints from consumers. The FTC's complaint, filed on its behalf by the Department of Justice, seeks to make the defendants pay civil penalties and stop the illegal calls.

According to the FTC's complaint, Sonkei Communications, Inc., Peter J. Turpel, and Joseph Turpel sold robocall services to telemarketers offering credit card services, home security systems, and grant procurement programs. The defendants allegedly gave clients the means to hide their identity by transmitting inaccurate caller names on caller ID displays, such as "SERVICE MESSAGE" or "SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT." The FTC also alleged that the defendants knew, or consciously avoided knowing, that their clients called phone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry.

The Department of Justice filed the complaint on behalf of the Commission in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on November 17, 2011. The Commission vote to refer the complaint to the DOJ for filing was 5-0.

NOTE: The Commission refers a complaint to the DOJ for filing 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 defendants have actually violated the law. The case will be decided by the court.

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC's online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

(FTC File No. 1123060)

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