infoUSA Calls "Unfair" NYT Article About How It Marketed Lists Of "Gullible" Seniors To Known Scammers,

Instead of atoning for their sins and begging for forgiveness, infoUSA, the firm that knowingly marketed lists of “gullible” seniors to known scammers, opted for a path of childish and defensive rebuttals:

CEO Vinod Gupta (pictured):

We have not perpetuated any illegal activity. We have over four million customers. If someone buys a gun and shoots someone, is the gun dealer responsible? No. We ask that our customers follow the law.

A different story, however, if the gun dealer knows they’re going to use to the gun to shoot someone.

infoUSA’s public statement:

Unfortunately, the New York Times story plays on public anger against these criminals and natural sympathy for their victims to imply that legitimate businesses like InfoUSA are culpable. It unfairly tars the reputation of the direct marketing and banking industries by emphasizing out of all proportion the sad circumstances of a single victim of someone else’s crime.

Multiple victims, actually. Somehow we’re never convinced when someone puffs up their chest and proclaims they’re a “legitimate business…”

guthrie.jpgCFO Stormy Dean:

If we were doing something wrong, the F.T.C. would have investigated us, and to the best of our knowledge, the F.T.C. has never opened an investigation. If the FTC has never alleged misuse of data, then we must be doing it right.

Don’t worry, we’re sure those fortunes will shortly change.

Ed Mallin, president of InfoUSA services group:

My people aren’t investigators, they’re marketers, and it’s unfair to expect them to know everything about who is buying from us and every database that is listed on our Web site.”

Except when your internal emails indicate that your people knew they were dealing with skeezeballs. — BEN POPKEN

2 Firms Tied to Phone Lists Will Review Their Policies [NYT]
infoUSA Responds to New York Times Article About 3-Year Old, Closed Investigation into Telemarketing Scams [infoUSA]
PREVIOUSLY: infoUSA Marketed Lists Of “Gullible” Seniors To Known Scammers, Wachvoia Processed The Unsigned Checks

Comments

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  1. SaveMeJeebus says:

    If I was speeding, I would have been caught by now. Therefore, I must not be speeding or else I would have been caught. Infallible logic from these dirt merchants.

  2. MeanMachine says:

    Vinod Gupta allegedly has a 60 foot yacht staffed by an all-female crew. Make of that what you will.

  3. Canadian Impostor says:

    This would be a beautiful time for some sort of social engineer to wreak some deserved havoc on Mr. Gupta.

    It’s ok to trick the elderly and steal their money, right Mr. Gupta? Then I suppose it’s fine to “trick” the more able minded for the same purpose.

  4. Kos says:

    @SaveMeJeebus: Thank you for pointing out the obvious logic flaw in the idiot CFo’s statement.

  5. catnapped says:

    @Jason: Those old people were going to die soon enough anyway, so they really didn’t need the money…

  6. Kornkob says:

    Of course, if I owned one of these ‘legitimate businesses’ and the NYT wrote an article about it the best thing I could do to ensure ongoing press coverage is…


    …write an indignant letter to the press about how I’m running a legitimate business. After all, my customer base wouldn’t give a crap about the ‘bad press’ since they are insulated from it by my ‘legitimate business’.

    I say, don’t give the scummy bastards additional air time.

  7. Charles Duffy says:

    I’m not sure this post quite conveys the essence of InfoUSA’s rebuttal. The portion of that rebuttal which struck me as a reasonable defense boils down to the following:

    3 years ago, Iowa started an investigation into the actions of a subsidiary which InfoUSA purchased. After the investigation started, InfoUSA shut down the operations in question, and it has stayed out of the market for lists of gullible elderly ever since.

  8. crayonshinobi says:

    …It unfairly tars the reputation of the direct marketing and banking industries…

    Yeah, because those industries have such sterling reputations to begin with…

  9. gwong says:

    What a scumbag.

  10. sleze69 says:

    @Charles Duffy: I am going to have to agree. Although I think direct marketing is a horrible business in and of itself, this consumerist article does seem to ignore that paragraph.

  11. ElizabethD says:

    Wow. Worst spin ever.

  12. bmcgann says:

    This has the potential to really turn into something significant, and InfoUSA would be smart to switch into “Mea Culpa” mode very quickly. I can’t believe their response. They need a PR professional, stat. I didn’t see if this made any of the nightly news shows last night but I feel like this is a story they would be all over. Tie in the connections to the Clintons and again, this has the potential to be a big story.

  13. CFO Stormy Dean

    Are you kidding me? Is this a telemarketing company, or Vivid Video?

  14. Beerad says:

    I don’t see what the big deal is. I mean, I’ve been selling these “Neighborhood maps of homes with owners on vacation and no security systems” for years. It’s not my fault if some unsavory individual chooses to use the information I provide for some sordid purpose!

  15. VicMatson says:

    I’ll bet just posting Gulpa’s response will increase his market share sharply! There are a lot of scumbags out there that haven’t been caught yet!

  16. starrion says:

    Two Words:
    Arthur Anderson

    If an accounting company can be given a death sentence for misleading the public, then an aggregating firm can get the same for knowingly assisting and profiting from fraud.

  17. esqdork says:

    Hey Consumerist, can you give us Vinod’s direct dial?

  18. FunPaul says:

    @esqdork I second that request. I promise we’ll only use it for purposes of customer service. I promise not to try and shill some Liberian real estate to them. Honest on my word as a Christian businessman.

  19. multiplyfunction says:

    @loquaciousmusic: Or Sealab 2021?

  20. matukonyc says:

    Just because people are elderly doesn’t mean that they can’t just be plain stupid, and whose fault is that?

  21. erica.blog says:

    It unfairly tars the reputation of the direct marketing and banking industries…

    Uh, did either industry had a spotless reputation before this news broke? Particularly direct marketing — I don’t think many consumers like that stuff :-)

    @matukonyc: Anybody stupid (or, let’s be a bit nicer and say gullible) can be defrauded by tricks like those calls, whether they’re 19 or 91. The issue in this case is that a list specified a certain group of people as gullible, and then that list was made available, and then the people on that list were defrauded. The fact that they’re all elderly is just evil-icing on the evil-cake — they are on fixed incomes and therefore a harder time recovering from fraud, identity theft, or any other scams.

  22. Jiminy Christmas says:

    ‘It’s just business.’ are some of the most amoral words in the English lexicon. Obviously, Mr. Gupta is just fine with straddling the line between what’s merely wrong and what’s illegal. If he keeps up the current line of defense I feel pretty confident he will sooner or later find himself charged as an accessory to a crime or named in a civil suit. His denial of wrongdoing is quite cleverly nuanced. Note that he didn’t get out of the ‘elderly opportunity seeker’ marketing biz until the Iowa AG suggested he do so.

    As for Mr. Guthrie, he’s both a sympathetic and a pathetic figure. One of his remaining joys in life appears to be chatting with telemarketers, which is just sad. Meanwhile, I suspect that anyone who would write him off as ‘stupid’ has never had to care for an extremely elderly person. Totally aside from actual dementia, decline in mental faculties is not unusual. Want to know what it’s like to take care of someone like that? Imagine yourself responsible for a 10-year-old with their own house, car keys, and bank account who isn’t really required to listen to you.

  23. mathew says:

    Yeah, my summary of the salient points from the press release is: “We’re not selling lists of suckers any more, we sold that part of the business. Plus, the authorities didn’t find us criminally liable, and anyway it was a long time ago.”

  24. PlanetExpressdelivery says:

    It’s one thing to conduct business with shady customers, it’s another thing entirely to know that your customers are bonafide criminals and CONTINUE to do business with them. I believe that knowingly aiding and abeting a criminal makes you an accessory. Bust out the cuffs and the lube boys!

    I wonder how Mr. Gupta would feel had somebody decided to play around with his personal bank account. Maybe a little disappearing act?

  25. PlanetExpressdelivery says:

    As for Gupta’s idiotic comparison to a gun dealer;
    If you’re a gun dealer and you sell a gun to someone without conducting a formal background check, allowing the standard time period to pass (usually 7 days), and ensuring that said customer does not posess a rather lengthy criminal background, no you might not be in trouble. Fail any one of those requirements, and you can bet your ass that you won’t be running a gun shop for much longer.

  26. TPK says:

    Just saw these links, interesting article from Dick Morris about the Clinton connection to these folks:

    New York Post

    More detailed version of same article