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Telemarketers Take Advantage of Spanish-Speaking Consumers

by on September 17, 2007

A group of telemarketers have been banned from the business as a result of their deceitful practices. According to the FTC, these Miami-based telemarketers were calling Spanish-speaking consumers and promising them bogus offers of free ATM cards, free phone cards, pre-approved MasterCards with advanced fees, and free trial memberships to discount health plans.

According to the FTC, these criminals committed fraud on over 30,000 people, bilking them out of more than $4 million dollars. To make matters worse, they actually got away with airing ads on Spanish-language television networks such as Telefutura, Telemundo, and Galavision.

In their ads, the telemarketers promised to get their consumers a pre-approved Amerikash MasterCard as well as a number of other items after they paid a fee of $138 to $200. Consumers were also told that they would be included in the Amerikhealth discount health plan, though the members had to cancel the health plan before the free period expired if they wished to avoid the monthly fees.

The FTC maintains that many consumers did not receive a MasterCard at all and they only received some of the items that were promised to them. Some didn’t receive anything. Of the cards that were actually to sent to consumers, many of them did not work. When it came to the free health plan, many consumers were not told how long the trial period was and those that tried to cancel their plan were often unable to do so. The scammers also charged the consumer’s credit card accounts or bank accounts without authorization for the charges and continued to charge the accounts on a regular basis.

As a result of the FTC charges, the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida banned the defendants from telemarketing or selling credit cards, debit cards, stored value cards, ATM cards, phone cards, gas vouchers, travel vouchers, vacation package discounts, or health discount plans. Each of the defendants have also been ordered to pay $4,164,558 in damages. The judgments have been partially suspended due to the financial situation of the defendants, but will be due in full if it is found that they misrepresented themselves.

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