WASHINGTON - The United States has filed suit against Sonkei Communications Inc., and its principal corporate officers, Peter Turpel and Joseph Turpel, the Justice Department announced today. The government’s complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, alleges that the defendants violated the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) through their telemarketing service, which facilitates delivery of robocalls by telemarketers claiming to offer products and services to consumers throughout the United States, including home security systems, grant procurement programs, and credit card services. Sonkei is based in Newbury Park, Calif.
The TSR established the National Do Not Call Registry for consumers who do not wish to receive certain telemarketing calls, and generally prohibits calling these consumers. The TSR also prohibits “robocalls,” that is, telephone calls that deliver a prerecorded message if the seller has not first obtained the recipient’s consent to receive these calls.
The government’s complaint alleges that the defendants assisted and facilitated abusive practices by their telemarketing customers, including calling telephone numbers registered on the National Do Not Call Registry and placing unauthorized robocalls to consumers, in violation of the Telemarketing Sales Rule.
In addition, the complaint alleges that the illegal calls allegedly placed by the defendants’ customers have generated tens of thousands of complaints from consumers and businesses. In its lawsuit, the government asks the court to impose civil penalties for the defendants’ conduct and to enjoin them from further TSR violations. The complaint, which the Justice Department filed with the assistance of the FTC, is based on the FTC’s investigation of the defendants’ telemarketing service.
“The Telemarketing Sales Rule, including the Do Not Call Registry, aims to shield consumers from a barrage of sales calls they don’t want which push products they don’t need,” said Tony West, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division of the Department of Justice. “We will work with the FTC to identify and penalize those who violate the rule and can’t take ‘no’ for an answer.”
Individuals who believe they have received calls in violation of the TSR should register their complaints with the FTC. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant (www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/) or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). This case is being prosecuted by Department of Justice, Civil Division, Consumer Protection Branch attorneys Sondra Mills and Matthew Ebert.