Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, March 10, 2016
United States Files Suit Against California Telemarketer to Halt Unlawful Robocalls Promoting Solar Panel Sales
The Department of Justice filed a civil complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, to halt a telemarketing campaign that allegedly resulted in over a million illegal phone calls to consumers who had placed their phone numbers on the Do Not Call Registry, the Department of Justice announced today.
The complaint charges that KFJ Marketing, Sunlight Solar Leads LLC, Go Green Education and the owner of those companies, Francisco Salvat, violated the Telemarketing Sales Rule by operating a telemarketing campaign that delivered pre-recorded “robocall” messages warning consumers about a purported looming “14 percent increase” in their energy bill. The calls invited consumers to “press one” to lower their electric bill. Consumers who did were connected with one of the defendants’ employees, who asked about the consumer’s interest in solar panels.
If the consumer expressed interest in solar panels, the telemarketer scheduled an appointment with a private solar installation company and sold the consumer’s information to that company as a customer lead. When consumers asked the defendants not to call them again, the complaint alleges their requests were often ignored.
The complaint alleges that the defendants violated federal law by placing 1.3 million calls to phone numbers on the Do Not Call Registry and by failing to transmit accurate caller ID information.
“Federal law protects the privacy interests of American consumers by prohibiting calls made to numbers on the national Do Not Call Registry and otherwise limiting calls made by telemarketers,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “The Department of Justice will continue to work with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to ensure entities like those named in today’s lawsuit are penalized when they make unwanted and unlawful phone calls.”
“Mr. Salvat’s companies ignored the Do Not Call Registry and made illegal robocalls,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Breaking the law isn’t a great way for a company to introduce itself to potential customers.”
The matter was investigated by the FTC and referred to the Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection Branch after the FTC determined it had reason to believe the defendants’ conduct was violating the law and that a proceeding would be in the public interest. The complaint seeks civil penalties as well as injunctive relief.
The matter is being handled by Trial Attorney Jacqueline Blaesi-Freed of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch, with assistance from Sarah Schroeder and Sylvia Kundig from the FTC.
A complaint is merely a set of allegations that, if the case were to proceed to trial, the government would need to prove by preponderance of the evidence.