Federal Trade Commission Seeks Summary Judgment to Stop Inmate Calling Scam

The Federal Trade Commission filed a motion for summary judgment in the Northern District of California on Thursday against Mark and Courtney Grisham, and their companies Disruption Theory LLC and Emergent Technologies LLC. The FTC is seeking to stop the defendants from selling their misleading inmate calling plans to consumers.

The FTC called this suit “a straightforward deceptive advertising case.” The Grishams, who control the two aforementioned companies, “offered and sold inmate calling plans to friends and families of incarcerated individuals by falsely promising ‘unlimited minutes’ and by posing as telecommunications companies that provided inmate calling services to correctional facilities under contract.” The plaintiff claimed that there is “undisputed evidence” that the defendants violated Section 5 of the FTC Act, since Mark Grisham admitted that he ran an “unlawful operation” and “knowingly made these false representations that collected $1.2 million from consumers from 2015 to 2020.”

The defendant’s website, inmatecall.com, allegedly misled customers into believing that they did not also have to “open and fund prepaid calling accounts with their correctional facility’s approved telecommunications provider.” Furthermore, they “featured the names, logos, and website addresses of three Specialized Service Providers contracted with prisons and jails to offer telephone services to incarcerated individuals,” despite not being affiliated with any of the three companies. His companies allegedly did not have contracts with any correctional facilities as well. The FTC claimed that “there is no dispute that Defendant has knowingly continued his deceptive practices since 2010.”

The Federal Trade Commission is seeking summary judgment on the counts of the false unlimited minutes claim, false claims of affiliation with specialized service providers, injunctive relief banning Mark Grisham from offering inmate calling services, and permanent enjoinment of the defendant.