SEATTLE -- Attorney General Christine Gregoire has filed a lawsuit against a Canadian telemarketer for allegedly violating state and federal laws by sending thousands of recorded sales pitches to Washington residents.
"This company broke about every consumer law we have," said Gregoire. "The product is illegal. The sales pitch is illegal. And the promises they made were deceptive."
The complaint, filed in Federal District Court against Toronto-based DFD Telebroadcasting, Inc. and Marvin Fine, alleges violations of both state and federal laws which prohibit the use of automatic dialing and announcing devices (ADAD's). It is illegal to use a prerecorded voice to deliver a telephone message without the prior express consent of the called party.
The unique twist to this case, according to Gregoire, was that the company used the automated sales pitch to lure others to buy into the illegal ADAD scheme. The pre-recorded message said the company was looking for people willing to monitor a computer from their home and perform other simple tasks for a guaranteed minimum fee of $40,000.
Several Washington consumers paid a $3,000 "refundable deposit" for the use of the equipment and installed extra home telephone lines believing it was a legal product, simple to operate, and required no expertise in computers to operate.
The lawsuit alleges the tasks required were not simple and the goals that had to be achieved to insure payment were impossible to attain. In order to get the "guaranteed" $40,000 annual fee, consumers had to monitor the equipment and send out at least 200 faxes a month to interested, qualified leads.
"Given the low response rate to the automated messages, it was impossible to ever achieve the goal," said Gregoire. "It’s real easy to guarantee something you know you’ll never have to pay."
In addition, the lawsuit alleges the company used an illegal pyramid scheme to recruit additional distributors.
The state is asking the court to order the company stop its illegal practices, provide restitution to consumers, assess civil penalties and reimburse the state for its costs to bring the action.
Anyone wanting more information about ADAD's or to file a complaint, should contact the AG's Office at (800) 551-4636; (800) 833-6384 for the hearing impaired.