FTC exercises undue kindness

The case went like this:

The Federal Trade Commission today announced a complaint and proposed consent decree settling charges that a California-based “voice broadcaster” made over 46 million unlawful telemarketing calls. The proposed court order permanently bars the defendants from violating the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) and requires them to pay $180,000 in civil penalties.

According to the complaint filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ), since October 1, 2003, Voice-Mail Broadcasting Corporation (VMBC) and its owner, Jesse Crowe, have used automated dialers to “blast” consumers with prerecorded telemarketing pitches. The calls pitched products from debt-consolidation services to mortgage brokerage services and other retail and financial services. When VMBC’s telemarketing calls were answered by consumers rather than answering machines or voicemail systems, VMBC either immediately hung up, leaving consumers with “dead air,” or played a prerecorded message. Such calls violate the TSR, which limits telemarketers’ use of prerecorded messages by requiring that calls answered by a person be connected to a sales representative within two seconds. The FTC’s complaint alleges that VMBC, under the direction of its owner, made more than 46 million calls that violated the TSR.

The penalty is at least marginally stiff:

The proposed consent decree imposes a civil penalty of $3 million against VMBC and its owner, of which all but $180,000 will be suspended based on the defendants’ inability to pay. However, VMBC and its owner will become liable for the full amount if the court finds they misrepresented their financial condition.

I think it’s a safe bet that he’s hiding it somewhere, so the FTC made a good call with that last clause. However, I was really hoping for something that (1) puts the guy under some form of house arrest and (2) rings his telephone every 45 seconds, twenty-four hours a day, three hundred sixty-four days a year. (Give him Christmas off.) This kind of treatment would surely impel him to mend his ways far more effectively than merely draining his bank account would.

(Via Consumerist.)

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