FTC Shuts Down Huge Medical Alert Scam Targeting Seniors
The settlement, reached jointly with the FTC and the Florida attorney general, includes a $23 million judgment against the defendants. The judgment was the amount that seniors were charged in monthly fees for their "free" medical alert units.
However, most of that judgment will be suspended if the defendants surrender their available cash, cars and a boat, the FTC said. The defendants are also barred from telemarketing and misleading consumers in sales pitches.
The Systems Weren't Free, and They Weren't Recommended
The scam involved robocalls to seniors that told them, falsely, that they could get a free medical alert system that had been paid for by a friend or family member. Many victims were elderly, had limited income and lived alone, the FTC said.
Those who were interested after hearing the recorded spiel simply pressed "one" on their phones and were transferred to someone who claimed, again falsely, that the alert systems had the recommendation of the American Heart Association, the American Diabetes Association and the National Institute on Aging.
They were then told that a $34.95 monthly fee would be charged after installation activation. But, the FTC said, that was also not true. Billing was immediate.
Defendants include Worldwide Info Services, Inc., Elite Information Solutions Inc., Absolute Solutions Group Inc., Global Interactive Technologies, Global Service Providers, Arcagen Inc., American Innovative Concepts, Inc. Unique Information Services Inc., National Life Network, Inc., and its principals Michael Hilgar, Gary Martin, Joseph Settecase and Yuluisa Nieves.
Agencies involved in the investigation include the Indiana and Minnesota attorneys general, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (Atlanta, Boston and Houston divisions), and the Better Business Bureau Serving Eastern Missouri and Southern Illinois.
The FTC offers tips and videos to help consumers avoid getting ripped off from robocalls.