The Federal Trade Commission and 10 states have closed the book on the remaining defendants who assisted a Florida-based cruise line company in running an illegal telemarketing campaign that flooded consumers with billions of unwanted robocalls. In settling the charges, Fred Accuardi and his companies are barred from robocalling and illegal telemarketing, as well as helping anyone else make such calls.
In early 2015, the FTC and its state partners alleged that that the companies involved in the scheme illegally sold cruise vacations using political survey robocalls. The FTC and states filed charges against—and reached settlements with—most of the defendants in the case, including Caribbean Cruise Line, Inc. (CCL).
The CCL robocall campaign ran from October 2011 through July 2012 and averaged approximately 12 to 15 million illegal sales calls a day. Consumers who answered these calls typically heard a pre-recorded message telling them they had been selected to participate in a 30-second research survey, after which they would receive a “free” two-day cruise to the Bahamas. In reality, the calls were designed to market CCL’s cruises and various up-sell packages. The illegal robocalls generated millions of dollars for CCL.
The complaint charged Accuardi and his companies with assisting and facilitating the illegal calls by providing robocallers with hundreds of telephone numbers, making it possible for them to choose and change the names that would appear on consumers’ caller ID devices, funding a part of the robocalling campaigns, and hiding the robocallers’ identities from authorities.
The proposed settlement order announced today bars Accuardi and his businesses from: 1) initiating, or causing anyone else to initiate, any robocalls or helping anyone else make robocalls; and 2) engaging in illegal telemarketing practices. The proposed order also includes a judgment of $1.35 million, which will be suspended after the defendants pay $2,500. If the FTC finds the defendants have misrepresented their financial condition, the entire judgment will become due.
The attorneys general of Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Washington, as well as the Tennessee Regulatory Authority, helped the FTC in bringing this case, and Commission appreciates their assistance.
The Commission vote approving the proposed order was 3-0. The FTC filed the proposed order in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
NOTE: Stipulated final orders have the force of law when approved and signed by the District Court judge.