The Federal Trade Commission called for a halt this week to a robocalling scheme that scammed some older Americans into buying at-home medical devices that were pitched to them as “free.”
According to the FTC, an Orlando-based company used pre-recorded phone calls to sell the devices to seniors by making them believe friends or family had purchased the devices for them.
“These telemarketers used illegal robocalls to make a sales pitch that was 100 percent false,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “They lied about the product, about whether health organizations had endorsed it, and about its cost. And all the while, their M.O. was to take advantage of older people’s concerns about their health. We’re so glad to work with our partners in Florida to stop this fraud.”
The product was an at-home wearable gadget marketed as LifeWatchUSA, which purported to serve as a medical alert device, the FTC found. The robocallers, who told customers they qualified for a free product, transferred interested parties to a live representative who further detailed false product endorsements such as the American Heart Association (AHA), the American Diabetes Association (ADA), and the National Institute on Aging (NIA).
Further, the marketers said the fees associated with monitoring would be charged only once the medical alert system had been installed and activated when in reality they began billing consumers immediately, the FTC said.
“We will not tolerate unscrupulous individuals targeting the elderly,” said Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. “This company received more than $13 million in commissions since March 2012, and we will do everything in our power to compensate consumers who lost money due to the fraudulent medical alert scheme.”
Written by Elizabeth Ecker