Three individuals and a telephone call center that helped Florida-based Grand Bahama Cruise Line LLC (GBCL) and others to make millions of illegal robocalls to consumers settled a Federal Trade Commission complaint and are permanently barred from making telemarketing robocalls. The FTC will litigate in federal court against GBCL and six other defendants involved in the massive operation, who have not agreed to settle.
“This case shows the FTC’s sustained effort to tackle illegal robocall operations that bombard consumers with unsolicited calls,” said Andrew Smith, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “It also demonstrates that anyone who provides substantial assistance to illegal robocall operations may be liable for substantial civil penalties.”
According to the FTC’s complaint, the defendants involved in the GBCL operation made or facilitated millions of illegal calls to consumers nationwide pitching free cruise vacations between Florida and the Bahamas. Starting in 2014, the defendants operated their own in-house call center, employing telemarketers to contact consumers nationwide.
The FTC alleged that, through 2017, the GBCL operation hired various call centers, including several other defendants, which marketed the cruise vacation packages. GBCL’s telemarketing operation allegedly bought call lists from lead generators that conducted illegal survey robocalls to identify potential customers.
In addition to delivering millions of illegal robocalls through 2018, the defendants never scrubbed their lists against the agency’s Do Not Call Registry, and called phone numbers on the Registry, the FTC alleged. The defendants also illegally called consumers who asked not to be called, and failed to transmit accurate caller ID information, in violation of the agency’s Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR).
Proposed settlement orders against the defendants Christopher Cotroneo and call center Cabb Group, LLC, and Christina and Robert Peterson II ban them from robocalling, including assisting others in making robocalls. The orders also bar the defendants from violating the TSR. The orders impose judgments totaling more than $7.8 million, which are suspended because of the defendants’ inability to pay, except for $2,500 to be paid by Cotroneo.
The Commission vote approving the complaint and proposed final orders was 5-0. The FTC filed the complaint and proposed orders in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.
NOTE: The Commission files a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the named defendants are violating or are about to violate the law and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. Stipulated final orders have the force of law when approved and signed by the District Court judge.
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