FTC Issues $10.2M Against Cleaner Co. for Making Millions of Illegal Robocalls

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced the filing of a complaint and several proposed orders against a septic tank cleaning company and its two officers, brothers Joseph Carney and Carney, alongside a third brother Raymond Carney, in connection with allegations that they initiated more than 45 million illegal telemarketing calls to consumers nationwide in a 14 month span. The press release said that the defendants used deception and fraud to coerce consumers into purchasing Environmental Safety International Inc.’s (ESI) “Activator 1000” line of septic tank cleaning products.

Last Friday’s District of New Jersey filing charges the defendants with violations of the Telemarketing and Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act, the FTC Act, and the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule. It explains that the defendants’ telemarketers told consumers that they were calling from an “environmental company,” and offered targets free, non-solicitous information on the septic tank cleaning products. This was false, the filing alleges, as consumers who elected to receive that information instead received a sales pitch.

In addition, the complaint filed by the Department of Justice on behalf of the FTC alleges that ESI mailed letters containing unpaid invoices to customers who agreed to buy their products. These falsely claimed that customers would be referred to a debt collection agency or an attorney, though the company took neither of these actions, the FTC said.

Further, the commission contends, 31 million of the calls made were to numbers on the nation’s “Do Not Call” Registry in violation of the Telemarketing Sales Rule. The defendants settled the charges by agreeing to a permanent telemarketing ban and paying millions in civil penalties. As part of the settlement they will also turn over a residential property, the press release said.