Law enforcement agencies continue to set their sights on fraudulent telemarketers. As part of "Operation Double Barrel," announced today by the Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission was recognized by the Department for its efforts to combat telemarketing fraud.
"The Commission is committed to fighting telemarketing fraud," said FTC Commissioner Sheila Anthony. "And we will continue to work with the Department of Justice and other law enforcement agencies to put these con artists out of business."
Operation Double Barrel is an outgrowth of Operation Senior Sentinel, a nationwide undercover effort begun in 1993. Senior Sentinel involved federal law enforcement agencies taking over telephone lines of people who had been repeatedly victimized by telemarketing schemes, and tape-recording conversations between fraudulent telemarketers and undercover agents or senior citizens recruited through the AARP. Operation Double Barrel, which continues to make and use these recordings, seeks to develop joint prosecutions by federal and state authorities, and to foster greater coordination between the Department of Justice, FTC and other federal agencies to bring both criminal and civil enforcement actions against telemarketing schemes.
The National Tape Library has approximately 14,000 tape recorded telemarketing calls, gathered by undercover law enforcement agents. A product of the National Association of Attorneys General and the San Diego Boiler Room Task Force -- with financial support from the FBI, the Justice Department and the FTC -- the tape library's database has the name, address and telephone number of the company, the name of the salesperson who made the call, the subject matter of the call, and the date the recording was made.
The FTC has found the Tape Library to be an invaluable resource in developing its telemarketing enforcement program. In the past two years, the Commission has brought at least 15 federal court actions against fraudulent telemarketers relying on evidence from the Library. In addition, the FTC now provides sister law enforcement agencies with a comprehensive index of the Tape Library and an efficient tape request process through its Consumer Sentinel database. The Commission's Consumer Sentinel provides law enforcement agencies with a one stop, secure resource tool for consumer fraud intelligence, available over the Internet. Member agencies can search the Tape Library database as well as over 130,000 consumer complaints about telemarketing, direct mail and Internet fraud. Through Consumer Sentinel, members are able to search for information by a particular company, sales representative, subject area or location.
Copies of the consumer education material about telemarketing fraud and information about enforcement actions filed against fraudulent telemarketers 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; 202-FTC-HELP (202-382-4357); TDD 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.