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Remaining Defendants Settle FTC Telephone Cramming Case

On June 23, 2017, the Federal Trade Commission announced that the remaining defendants behind a “massive landline cramming operation” agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they placed more than $70 million in unauthorized charges on consumers’ phone bills.

The settlements with defendants Steven Sann, Terry Lane and the corporate defendants who allegedly operated the scheme, resolve the remaining charges the FTC brought against American eVoice, Ltd., eight other companies and four individual defendants.

In its complaint, the Commission alleged that the operation placed charges ranging from $9.95 to $24.95 per month on consumers’ landline phone bills for voicemail services they never requested or knew about.

According to the agency, the lead defendant and his wife Lane, along with the corporate defendants have now agreed to settle the FTC’s charges. An accountant that allegedly provided financial and management services for the scheme settled last November.

The terms of the settlements provide that the defendants are permanently banned from all telephone billing – landline or mobile, as well as unauthorized billing in general.

The settlements with Sann, Lane, and the corporate defendants impose judgments of $41.9 million that are either partially or entirely suspended based on an inability to pay. As per the settlement terms, Sann will have to forfeit more than $500,000 in purportedly ill-gotten funds that he used to fund his IRAs, and surrender an Infiniti Q56 and a Nissan 350Z.

In a parallel criminal case brought by the United States Attorney for the District of Montana, Sann pleaded guilty to criminal charges of money laundering and wire fraud and was sentenced to two years in prison.

The settlement with the accountant imposes a judgment of $71 million that was suspended after he transferred $75,000 to the Commission.

In the future, if any of the defendants are found to have misrepresented their financial condition, the entire amount of the respective judgment will become due as to those defendants.

Contact an FTC defense lawyer if you ae the subject of a local, state or federal investigation, or enforcement action.

You can find more information about the author via his website or on LinkedIn.


ADVERTISING MATERIAL. These materials are provided for informational purposes only and are not to be considered legal advice, nor do they create a lawyer-client relationship. No person should act or rely on any information in this article without seeking the advice of an attorney. Information on previous case results does not guarantee a similar future result. Hinch Newman LLP | 40 Wall St., 35th Floor, New York, NY 10005 | (212) 756-8777.


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Richard B. Newman

Richard B. Newman is an Internet Lawyer at Hinch Newman LLP focusing on advertising law, Internet marketing compliance, regulatory defense and digital media matters. His practice involves conducting legal compliance reviews of advertising campaigns across all media channels, regularly representing clients in high-profile investigative proceedings and enforcement actions brought by the Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general throughout the country, advertising and marketing litigation, advising on email and telemarketing best practice protocol implementation, counseling on eCommerce guidelines and promotional marketing programs, and negotiating and drafting legal agreements.

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