Michael Garganese, former owner of a Beverly Hills, California-based company, Ideal Concepts, Inc., has agreed to settle charges brought by the Federal Trade Commission in December 1995 as part of Project Senior Sentinel -- a nationwide, multi-agency telemarketing sweep against telemarketers who preyed on senior citizens. According to the FTC’s complaint in this case, Ideal Concepts’ telemarketers promised consumers valuable prizes or awards that allegedly were never delivered or, if delivered, were worth a fraction of their claimed value. As part of the proposed settlement of these charges, defendant Michael Garganese would be prohibited from engaging or assisting others to engage in any telemarketing activity, including the telemarketing sale of any good or service or charitable solicitation. In addition, Garganese has agreed to pay $15,000 in consumer redress.
Project Senior Sentinel, coordinated by the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, was aimed primarily at bringing criminal charges against telemarketers who defraud the elderly, and culminated in hundreds of arrests and indictments across the country. The FTC brought five cases against fraudulent telemarketers in Project Senior Sentinel. Telemarketers for Ideal Concepts made unsolicited telephone calls to consumers nationwide, many of whom were senior citizens. In these calls, the defendants offered consumers valuable awards as an inducement to purchase mugs, frisbees, baseball caps, and space pens, often with anti-drug slogans printed on the items. The prices of the items ranged from $400 to over $1,000.
In many instances, according to the FTC, the defendants misrepresented to consumers that the value of the prize or award they were to receive was worth significantly more than what they were paying for the products. In fact, according to the FTC, the prizes, if received, had little or no value at all.
The proposed settlement would permanently ban defendant Michael Garganese from any future telemarketing activities, including the telemarketing sales of any goods or services, or the telemarketing of charitable solicitations. In addition, the proposed settlement would require Garganese to pay consumer redress in the amount of $15,000. Finally, the settlement contains a number of recordkeeping requirements designed to assist the FTC with monitoring the defendants’ compliance.
The Commission vote to file the Stipulated Final Judgment and Order for Permanent Injunction was 5-0. It was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, in Los Angeles on June 24, and is subject to approval by the court. This matter was handled by the FTC’s Regional Office in Denver, Colorado.
NOTE: A stipulated final judgment and order for permanent injunction is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission by the defendant of a law violation. The judgment has the force of law when signed by the judge.
Copies of the proposed settlement, as well as other documents associated with Project Senior Sentinel, are available from the FTC’s Public Reference Branch, Room 130, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-326-2222; TTY for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest news as it is announced, call the FTC NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710. FTC news releases and other materials also are available on the Internet at the FTC’s World Wide Web site at: http://www.ftc.gov
(Civil Action No. 95-8403 TJH (AJWx))
(FTC File No: X96 0002)