A federal court has fined a group of Canadian individuals and firms nearly $5 million for their roles in a fraudulent cross-border telemarketing operation, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
The defendants, including Oelg and Aleksandr Oks and multiple companies like Pacific Liberty Group and Liberty Wide Info Services, are also barred from violating the FTC Act and the Commission’s Telemarketing Sales Rule.
The defendants used outbound telemarketing to deceive U.S. consumers, the FTC charged in 2005 in a sealed complaint. For an advance fee of $319, which they electronically debited from the victims’ bank accounts, the defendants promised that they could deliver Visa or MasterCard credit cards, along with free gifts such as cell phones, according to the FTC.
No consumers who paid the money received either credit cards or “complimentary” gifts, the commission continued. Instead, they received only a “member benefits” package containing such as booklets on how to improve their creditworthiness and other items, according to the complaint.
Some also received a “member merchandise” card valid only for purchases from a catalog supplied by the defendants, the FTC added.
The defendants also called consumers offering them a brand-name personal computer if they agreed to have a fee debited from their bank account, but then never delivered, the FTC alleged. Instead, victims received certificates purportedly redeemable for off-brand computers, but they first had to pay additional fees, the complaint continued.
The court order states that the principle defendants failed to respond to an FTC motion for summary judgment and to other information requests.
Last year, the Competition Bureau Canada announced that Oleg Alex Oks and Aleksandr Oks had pleaded guilty to criminal charges of deceptive telemarketing. Oleg Oks was sentenced to a year in jail and two years probation. Aleksandr Oks received a six-month conditional sentence and 12 months probation. Both were barred from telemarketing for 10 years, according to the FTC.
The defendants in the U.S. case included Philip Nemirovsky; and Boris Pekar, according to the FTC.
The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, also charged the following corporations, all based in Ontario, Canada:
*1530605 Ontario Inc., also doing business as Pacific Liberty.
*159927 Ontario, Inc., also doing business as Pacific Liberty Group and Pacific Liberty W Group.
*1565205 Ontario Inc., also doing business as Pacific Liberty and Pacific Liberty W.
*1585392 Ontario Inc., also doing business as Liberty Wide Info Services, Liberty Wide Info Services Group, Liberty Wide Services; and Liberty Wide.
*1620142 Ontario Inc., also doing business as Liberty Sun Info Services and Liberty Sun Info.
*1619264 Ontario, Inc., also doing business as C & B Communications Group.
*1629930 Ontario, Inc., also doing business as Atlantic One Info Services Group and Atlantic One Info Services Group.
*1485635 Ontario, Inc., also doing business as Nationwide Credit Service Inc., Nation Wide Information Services Group Inc., and Nationwide Information Services.