FTC Mails Refund Claim Forms to Robocaller Victims

Scam on car warrantiesNearly 12,000 consumers defrauded by a massive auto warranty robocaller scheme have been mailed claim forms by the Federal Trade Commission to obtain refunds.

The robocaller, VoiceTouch Inc., working with other scammers, swindled 11,780 victims via illegal robocalls on behalf of Transcontinental Warranty, Inc., which sold the bogus auto warranties. Trancontinental hired Voice Touch to bombard consumers with millions of deceptive pre-recorded calls in 2009.As a result of settlements reached by the FTC with several defendants, some $3 million has been recovered to refund consumers who purchased the phony warranties.

Consumers who receive the forms will have 60 days to complete and return them to the claims administrator, Analytics, Inc. The amount of each refund will be determined after consumers return their forms.

Transcontinental was only one of several companies for which Voice Touch blasted auto warranty robocalls, which resulted in a flood of complaints to the FTC. The claim forms being mailed out today, however, are only for consumers defrauded by Transcontinental.

According to the FTC's complaint, VoiceTouch and its principal, James A. Dunne, conducted telemarketing campaigns that contacted tens of millions of consumers with pre-recorded pitches. The calls mislead consumers into believing they were affiliated with their car dealership or manufacturer, and that their auto warranty was expiring or about to expire.

Thanks to a series of settlements with the FTC, the various VoiceTouch and Transcontinental defendants are permanently banned from telemarketing. They're also prohibited from making pre-recorded calls like the millions they used to trick consumers into buying extended service contracts masquerading as extensions of the original vehicle warranties.

Transcontinental and its owner Christopher Cowart were banned from the telemarketing business under an FTC settlement in September 2009. The settlement also included a $24 million fine, which was suspended due to his inability to pay. The settlement was announced the same day a new FTC rule went into effect prohibiting telemarketers from making robocalls unless consumers agree in writing to receive them

VoiceTouch settled charges with the FTC in March 2010, when Dunne agreed to fork over approximately $655,000 to compensate his victims. Dunne also agreed to forfeit the proceeds from the sale of his second home in Florida and two luxury cars, a Porsche 911 and a Lexus sedan. Dunne and VoiceTouch were also permanently barred from the telemarketing business.

One of the telemarketers responsible for the bogus robocalls, Damian Kohlfeld and his two firms, Voice Foundations, LLC and Network Foundations, LLC, were barred from the telemarketing business under an FTC settlement in August 2010. Kohlfeld also agreed to surrender his Mercedes and pay a $2.3 million penalty for consumer redress.

The amount of money consumers receive will be based on the number of claim forms received and approved, and the amount available for refunds. While consumers may not receive refunds for all the money they lost, they must return the forms in order to be eligible for refunds.

Consumers who have questions about completing the form after they receive it can contact Analytics, Inc. toll-free at 1-877-720-5908 or visit www.ftc.gov/refunds.
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