The Federal Trade Commission, in coordination with the Department of Justice (DOJ), has brought a federal court action to stop a telemarketing operation that allegedly made illegal robocalls promising consumers energy savings, in an effort to generate leads to sell to solar panel installation companies.
According to the complaint, defendants Francisco Salvat and his companies placed more than 1.3 million illegal pre-recorded telemarketing calls to consumers with phone numbers on the national Do Not Call Registry. The defendants allegedly claimed to be attempting to help consumers with their energy costs.
“Mr. Salvat’s companies ignored the Do Not Call Registry and made illegal robocalls,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Breaking the law isn’t a great way for a company to introduce itself to potential customers.”
According to the complaint, the defendants’ prerecorded calls made statements such as: “This is an urgent call about your energy bill,” and “stop the 14% increase coming soon.” Consumers were told to “push one” to lower their electric bill. Those who did were transferred to a telemarketer who asked if the consumer was interested in solar panels.
If the consumer said yes, the telemarketer scheduled an appointment with a private solar installation company and sold the consumer’s information to that company as a customer lead. When consumers asked the defendants not to call them again, the complaint alleges their requests were often ignored.
Based on this conduct, the complaint charges the defendants with violating the Telemarketing Sales Rule by: 1) calling consumers whose numbers are on the DNC Registry; 2) continuing to call consumers who had previously asked not to be called; 3) failing to transmit accurate caller-ID information; and 4) making illegal robocalls. The FTC is seeking a federal court order permanently barring the defendants from the illegal conduct, as well as civil penalties for their telemarketing violations.
The Commission vote to authorize the staff to refer the civil penalty complaint to the U.S. Department of Justice was 4-0. The Department of Justice filed the complaint on behalf of the Commission in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California against defendants: KFJ Marketing, LLC; Sunlight Solar Leads, LLC; Go Green Education; and Francisco J. Salvat, individually and as an officer of each of the three businesses.
NOTE: The Commission refers a complaint for civil penalties 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 case will be decided by the court.
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Mitchell J. Katz
Office of Public Affairs
Sarah Schroeder and Sylvia Kundig
FTC Western Region, San Francisco