Adli Dasuqi and his companies, American Handicapped Inc. and American Handicapped and Disadvantaged Workers Inc., have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they tricked consumers into buying household products on the false pretext that the proceeds would go to help disabled people. The defendants will be banned from making any similar claims in the future.
According to the FTC’s complaint, the defendants’ telemarketers cold-called consumers to sell them light bulbs, trash bags and cleaning products and to seek charitable donations in return for a free gift. The telemarketers claimed that they represented a charitable organization that employed disabled persons or that the callers themselves were disabled.
In addition, the defendants allegedly shipped merchandise without consumers’ consent and then falsely told consumers that they owed money for the unordered merchandise. The defendants charged inflated prices for the merchandise, such as $30 for two light bulbs and $100 for 60 trash bags, according to the complaint. Dasuqi received consumer complaints from the Arizona Better Business Bureau and law enforcers in Iowa, Minnesota and other states but failed to stop the scheme, the FTC alleged.
The stipulated final order bans the defendants from selling anything for the purported benefit of disabled persons, prohibits them from mischaracterizing their employees and their charity involvement, prohibits untrue claims that anyone has ordered and agreed to pay for products, and bars misrepresentations of material facts about any good or service. The defendants also are prohibited from violating the Telemarketing Sales Rule and the Unordered Merchandise Statute, and from profiting from customers’ personal information and failing to dispose of it properly.
The order imposes a $4,005,544 judgment that will be suspended due to the defendants’ inability to pay. The full judgment will become due immediately if they are found to have misrepresented their financial condition.
The Commission vote authorizing the staff to file the complaint and proposed stipulated final order was 3-0. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan entered the order on June 8, 2016.
NOTE: The Commission files 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. Stipulated orders have the force of law when approved and signed by the District Court judge.
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