Meet Leverage Connections, King Of The Robocallers

Last week we reported that some types of unwanted robocall telemarketing will soon be banned. If you’re on the receiving end of Leverage Connections’ prerecorded harassment—they frequently operate under the generic names “Consumer Services” or “Credit Card Services”—you’ll finally have a way to formally complain to the FTC about them. Why would you want to complain? Because they’re the scammiest, most obnoxious robocall telemarketing company we’ve seen so far—even though what they do is apparently legal.

Leverage Connections will call you with a recorded message that says they’re calling about your credit card, and to push 1. If you fall for that and push the button, you’re connected to a commission-only employee who’s been told to hang up immediately at the first sign of critical thinking. This includes trying to finish the sentence, “Do not call me again.”

If you’re the gullible type, however, they’ll keep you on the phone and tell you how they can lower your credit card rate… for a fee. What they do, it turns out, is contact the credit card company and ask for a lower rate on your behalf.

Yes, this is the same thing you can do on your own. They’ll charge you around $1000-1500 for this service.

A reader wrote to us,

I have received 2-3 calls a week for over a year now. I have filed numerous, useless, complaints with the FTC, the Florida AG’s office, the California AG’s office ( I reside in CA) and the Florida Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services. All to no avail. This company called me yet again this morning.

A person who claims to have worked for them says they hire off of CraigsList and “magic marker signs” around town. The interview consists of being asked if you can sell, and if you say yes you’re put on the phone (and told to hang up if the people on the other end start asking questions). He points out, “Thus, anyone could have access to your private information.” He also says,

I understand they’re an automated system that will call anyone and everyone, mostly elderly, and even those on the “do not call list.” We just hung up on everyone who did not say yes and hitting the #2 does nothing. There is nothing to stop the calls. We just hang up on any person who didn’t sound like they were interested.

Another person on the same forum says he contacted Leverage Communications via their toll free number:

I spoke to “Eli” who told me that they do not have to abide by DoNotCall regulations because they only leave a message – and by selecting the option you are actually calling them. He claims they are working on behalf of the major credit card companies.

…They have been calling me up to three times a week for the past year.

So will their calls dry up come December 1st, 2008? We doubt it, but they’ll be in direct violation of the telemarketing sales rule if their recorded messages don’t lead off with a working option to end calls from their company. Make sure you take careful notes of when they call and whether or not they offer an automated option to get off the list, and file a complaint with the FTC if you need to.

(Thanks to Michael!)
(Photo of telephone: Getty)

Comments

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  1. Jabberkaty says:

    I knew you shouldn’t press one, those jerks! Hope they get raked over the coals! Burn, baby, burn!

  2. Ouze says:

    they already are in violation of so many rules, this is not too relevant. If the ever-toothless FCC wanted to shut them down, there are ample avenues under existing legal protections.

  3. floraposte says:

    I had a long conversation with one of the phone droids there, who called at the office (which I hate). He probably committed some fraud on behalf of his company, claiming that he was in fact an employee of Visa and things of that ilk.

  4. magic8ball says:

    I hate this company with a deep and abiding passion that cannot be quenched. I realize there are more important things I could be getting upset about, but I am SO TIRED of finding their stupid messages on my answering machine.

  5. esd2020 says:

    Add that to the list of things I don’t miss about not having a landline.

  6. opsomath says:

    So I have a prepaid cell phone, and carefully guard the number so I don’t waste minutes on this kind of garbage.

    I broke my rule though to sign up for football tickets at my university…SERIOUSLY NOT TEN MINUTES AFTER I submitted an online form with my number on it, I got a robocall from one of these guys, my first one ever.

    Customers of services that require or request your contact info need to check whether they plan on selling it off – and consider telling companies who refuse to give you a reasonable guarantee of privacy to bugger off.

  7. semanticantics says:

    Keep an air horn next to the phone.

  8. Will this stop those annoying “your vehicle warranty is about to expire” calls?

  9. wattznext says:

    @Canadian Impostor: One of those people called me for the first time the other day (on my cell phone no less).
    I pressed 1 to speak to an operator, and planned on telling them to put me on the do not call list.
    After being connected to Steve, I got as far as “Look Steve, i don’t even own and car, and i would appreciate if you…” and was promptly hung up on.
    Scum of the earth, these MFers.

  10. deadspork says:

    I receive calls from a (208) 906-1006 (on my cell phone) on a twice weekly basis or so. I googled the number and found out it’s a telemarketing firm that is hunting for valid numbers. Thankfully, I’ve never picked up, and saved the # to my phone listed as:
    Telemarketer! DO NOT ANSWER.

    I get a giggle every time they call. Luckily, I don’t answer numbers I don’t recognise, and they never leave a message.

  11. illtron says:

    I actually just got one of these annoying calls today at work. I think it was “card services.” I pressed 3 to be added to their do-not-call list. Hopefully it sticks. I’ve gotten this call before. I’ve also gotten a robocall about diabetes supplies a few times, both at this job and my previous one. I just hang up. Next time I’ll stay on the line long enough if there’s a way to get on the do not call list.

    I wrote down the number that called me today. It was (234) 567-8900. And now that I look at it, that can’t possibly be a real number.

  12. TechnoDestructo says:

    @Ouze:

    They’ll get around to it when we are all finally safe from nipples and the F word.

  13. ViperBorg says:

    They have their address on their website?
    Anyone wanna call that old lady who went ape-sh*t in a Comcast office? Let’s put some money together to get her there!

    Leverage Connections
    12014 E Colonial Dr
    Orlando FL 32826

    [maps.google.com]

    Get ‘Em.

  14. Hohoemi says:

    @Canadian Impostor: Ah! That is exactly what I was wondering. Are these the same people behind those scammy vehicle warranty calls? I keep getting those at both my work and cell number. I usually just hang up on them, but I have read stories of people pressing 1 to speak to a representative and getting hung up on immediately if you ask which car they are talking about or what company they work for. It certainly sounds like the same outfit.

  15. coreyp319 says:

    After getting calls (sometimes 3 times a day) at work I figured the best way I could get back at these guys was to just go along with their sales spiel and be super wishy washy and make them work and he eventually got so frustrated by trying to sell me a vacation to cancun that he hung. I dont know how many times I said ” I gotta ask my girlfriend first.”

    bastards.

  16. cotr says:

    dear consumerist, things like this make me hit the refresh buttons. these jackoffs call me all the damn time. repeated attempts to dupe them into giving me their information have failed. so now, i know who they are, kinda. i hope they go to hell and die.

  17. TouchMyMonkey says:

    @semanticantics: Or start breathing heavily, and asking the caller what she’s wearing. Oooh, that’s soooo hot!

  18. cotr says:

    @Canadian Impostor: my girlfriend gets those too. on her civic which she hasnt owned in a while. oddly enough those notices follow us when we move.

  19. cotr says:

    @Canadian Impostor: damn it. forgot to add. i got one of those calls on my brand new car. so i called them back and argued with them why my new car (under toyota warranty) is going void and why i need to buy it through them. a couple minutes later, i was off the list and they guy was nutless.

  20. floraposte says:

    @Canadian Impostor: I thought those were simply fraudsters. If so, they’re already breaking the law, so I doubt they’ll be perturbed.

  21. AgentTuttle says:

    Keep an air horn by the phone. They’ll take you off “the list.”

  22. PriceIsWrong says:

    @Canadian Imposter: I kept getting call from these guys after getting hung up on several times while asking to be removed from the list.

    After about the fifth time, I hung on, and faked my way through the whole deal right up till the end with a fake car (no reason to tell them about what I already owned) and they told me my mileage was too much to qualify anyway (84k on a ’01 Taurus btw)

    I made sure to act really interested in the offer and asked for phone numbers on who to call back in case my phone crapped out throughout and got names of everyone that called.

    After I was told I didn’t qualify, I asked the guy to be removed from the phone list, and he said that he would. I got a call the very next day, and did the exact same thing with a different fake car. Names, numbers, times.

    Then I reported them to the FCC and BBB and got some quick replies. Threatening legal action through both of them worked out really quickly, about 1 week for a response.

  23. The_IT_Crone says:

    @coreyp319: I did that once when I was in high school. I had them on the phone for about 2 HOURS while I did homework.

    I actually got one more call back, then never heard from them again. Since asking to be taken off the list didn’t work, I decided that I would make myself clearly not worth their time.

  24. PriceIsWrong says:

    Also, the Insurance companies website is GeneralWarrantyServices.com

    In one of their replies through the BBB, they mention that there are about 20 similar companies nationwide, so make sure to ask for a website for extra ammunition for the complaint.

  25. Indecent says:

    http://www.killthecalls.com

    Sue the bastards :) Cheap enough to be worth it, even if you dont win. Far more likely that you actually will win if you keep documentation.

  26. chartrule says:

    they call up here in Canada as well – pain in the ass – they seem to have a male and a female doing the recordings – i hang up on them

  27. ac13 says:

    The best way I have found to stop these calls is to go online and download the disconnected number tone that the phone company uses for disconnected numbers. Then record this onto your answering machine and wait one second before beginning your personal message. Screen your phone calls with the caller ID/answering machine.

    It may confuse friends/family who call you initially, but it has not only stopped this company from calling me, but almost every other telemarketing outfit as well.

  28. cmdrsass says:

    @TechnoDestructo: FTC not FCC, genius.

  29. wiggatron says:

    I’d just start calling them everyday to bug them about crap that they don’t care about.

  30. mac-phisto says:

    someone in a previous thread on this suggested banning autodialers. i’m writing my congresspeeps right now…

  31. taking_this_easy says:

    well, i would just assign them to my contact list, and put a silent ringtone with them….

    i still want to try to waste their time.. too bad they dont call after 9 or on weekends.. dont want to waste MY minutes after all….

    @mac-phisto: think they would bother? like Diebold, definitely some congress people having their hands dirty…

  32. econobiker says:

    Here is yet another spoofed calling battle we have had at my work. We report these guys and similar on any call number history websites we can.
    First Allied Funding
    21744 98th Ave # 1
    Jamaica, NY
    (718) 749-0052

    flag their craigslist postings:

    [newyork.craigslist.org]

    Caller ID: 718-749-0052
    Caller: first allied funding

    Company is called First Allied Funding. They also use 325-245-0258, 913-535-0200, 718-749-0042, 508-273-8346. They are registered as a corp in New York. Thier voice # is 718-749-0052, Fax 718-464-4237. Their Regestered Agent is Thomas A Steffan, 13132 Main Street, Alden NY. Phone 716-937-9111 This Steffan is listed as the agent working for Corporate Creations Network Inc. Corporate Creations is just a company that acts as a regestered agent for what ever reason…Gee possibly scam artists??????? Give them a taste of what they are giving us!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Spoofed calls:
    202-629-9389
    432-897-0948
    201-254-2044

    third time in a row: this time I made up that I was a business owner and talked to the people from a company supposedly called First Allied Funding, supposedly was talking to a “Blake Alexander” (but it sounded more like a Vinny from the Sopranos- maybe from Queens NYC), they supposedly are in the business of “merchant cash advances”, gave him a bunch of stuff about my fake business, he was supposed to fax me a copy of the application but I have received nothing as of 4pm cst.

    Here is some contact info on First Allied Funding which was found on the internet -unknown if this is correct or not:

    Contact Us
    718-749-0052 tel
    718-464-4237 fax
    info@firstalliedfunding.com email

    First Allied Funding
    925 Ygnancio Valley Road
    Suite 101
    Walnut Creek, CA 94596

    (888) 325-4146 – Main phone
    (925) 459-5953 – Main Fax
    info@firstalliedfunding.com

    From another phone complaint board
    Caller Type: Unknown
    Phone Number Owner: “First Allied Funding”
    Phone Number Report: The odd thing about this scam is that their auto-dialer calls the same people over and over again, which leads me to believe that the victims may be the children this guy hires to make the calls. I have received more than a dozen calls, and am now logging them: Spoof numbers used: 325-245-0258; 504-210-3700; 504-210-3708; 508-273-8346; 513-279-1122; 718-749-0042; 718-749-0052; 913-535-0200 Recording: Hi. Your business is qualified to receive an unsecured cash advance… 5/15/08 6:26 p.m. to cell phone from 913-535-0200 Pressed 1 and asked a question, they hung up 5/20/08 5:22 p.m. to cell phone from 504-210-3708; Pressed 1, asked to be taken off their list, they hung up. 5/23/08 1:28 p.m. to cell phone from 508-273-8346; Pressed 1 and reached “Shawn”; Gave his company name as Federal Merchant Funding, Fort Lauderdale, FL; Gave his phone number as 954-423-5390, ext. 1424 (number is disconnected) 5/23/08; 5:09 p.m. to home phone from 504-210-3708 Pressed 1 and reached “Steve”; Told them my credit card volume is $3500/mo. He said his company is First Allied Funding; 15 years in business, NYC 3-4 months ago, four locations in FL: Miami, Fort Lauderdale Gave me his callback number as 718-749-0052 ext 233 (this number works)Gave his address as Queens: 217-44 56th Avenue, New York, NY 11249; “We help small to medium-sized companies expand interest free cash advance; Unsecured, no collateral, no interest, no fixed payment, no security” 1-time fee based on average of monthly statements hung up when I asked for last name. 5/29/08 or 5/28/08 to home phone but didn’t record incoming number. Pressed 1 and waited and then hung up. 5/30/08 5:29 to the home phone from 513-279-1122. Pressed 1 but hung up because my cell was ringing (it was them!). 5/30/08; 5:30 to cell phone from 513-279-1122; Pressed 1 and spoke with “Samantha” Asked how loan could be unsecured: we are not a bank, don’t do no background checks; How can you loan without background checks: We trust people, in business for 14 years; Where are you located: Queens. She asked for my fax number so she can send me an application to sign and send back, wanted 12 months of credit card receipts, a copy of my business lease, copy of drivers license. Asked what her manager’s name was: Frank, can be reached at 718-749-0052 Mon-Fri Told her I live in Queens, what’s the address and I’ll come right over: she hung up immediately.
    Caller ID: 202-629-9389
    Caller: First Allied Funding
    Caller Type: Telemarketer

  33. Lyrai says:

    @coreyp319: I like that idea. Make it so it’s too much trouble to put up with you.

    …you know, on the TV show Whose Line Is It Anyway, there’s a game where the participants can only say two lines throughout the entire scene. Wonder how long I could string one of these assholes along by doing that.

  34. HogwartsAlum says:

    @HurtsSoGood:

    My boss at a place I worked in CA did that once, to an obscene caller who kept bothering us. He hung up immediately and never called back. We laughed so hard we almost peed ourselves.

  35. socalrob of the 24 and a half century says:

    They are doing this type of thing with car warrenties or something. I bought a certified used car last april and somehow got put onto this list. The certified car came with a warrenty that was the 3yr 36k factory warrenty plus an extension of 3 more years for a powertrain warrenty, effectively giving me warrenty coverage until 2012.

    The company calls about 2 times a month from different random numbers that go no where if called back, and pressing 2 just hangs up on you instead of taking you off the list, 1 sent me the first time to a call queue so I hung up. The 2nd time I got a live person right away and asked to be taken off the list. She said “one moment” and hung up on me immediately.

  36. lordargent says:

    We just hang up on any person who didn’t sound like they were interested.

    “And there is no such thing as a no sale call. A sale is made on every call you make. Either you sell the client some stock or he sells you a reason he can’t. Either way a sale is made, the only question is who is gonna close? You or him? Now be relentless, that’s it, I’m done. “

  37. dragonfire81 says:

    Unfortunately these guys are virually impossible to stop.

    They operate under one name, then once the complaints pile up, will close up shop and come up with a new name.

    DNC or not, you should expect to get these calls from time to time, there is only so much regulation can do.

  38. @lordargent: Yessss…Boiler Room.

    Oh, and “Coffee is for Closers”. Know that one?

  39. Waste their time.

    Time is money, and my time is especially important.

    That is why I always answer the telephone while I am in the restroom. Might as well multitask and have fun at the same time.

    So waste their time. The more time you can consume, the greater chance they will go out of business even sooner.

    If it means you must dicuss your “new” BMW 7 Series that you do not own with the telewhore, then go right ahead. Yes sir, got the VIN number right here. Is the first numer an “1”?, Nope that is wrong it is a “L”. Oops sorry, that is not the first number, that is the the 4th number, there was a dead fly laying over the first numbers.

    Yes, I got my credit card right here… somewhere…. oh darn where is my wallet….. did my wallet drop behind the dresser?

  40. mdovell says:

    These sob’s called me a few timed

    1) auto call…what the? ok this has to end

    2) auto call…again? ok press 1…Do you know that auto calls are illegal in mass” they just hang up

    3) auto call…what the…ok press 1 “Can I speak to YOUR manager?” women in some midwestern voice “no”

    Get some names of the top brass of the card companies. Claim you know or work for these people…Say you need any sort of contract that they have for lowering rates or else they’ll be sued.

  41. charodon says:

    Why do you say it’s “apparently legal”? There’s nothing legal about this. They are violating the Do Not Call rules (in 3 ways, by not cross-checking numbers against the DNC list, by making misrepresentations, and by using recorded messages on residential lines), violating consumer protection laws (unfair and deceptive trade practices), and committing garden-variety fraud. The idea that they’re not violating the DNC rules because the recording puts you into a phone menu is ludicrous. It would be hard for these people to get MORE illegal, over the phone anyway. Maybe if they were selling obscene materials to raise money for terrorists.

  42. Marsupial says:

    If it is anything like the scumbag, hellish, disgusting telemarketing agency I used to work for (I did the accounting, which was another nightmare), then you make them money every time you answer the phone. This company I worked for (I can’t say their name, but lets call them ‘Bessage Mroadcast’) would send out Robocalls (sometimes millions per day) and they would bill the client (banks, insurance, credit cards, etc.) different amounts depending on whether the message went to a machine, or to a live person. If it went to a person, and the person responded by pressing “1” or whatever to ‘get to an agent’, that was the jackpot. Those calls were measured in dollars, not cents, like the others.

  43. Marsupial says:

    Also, regarding the Do Not Call list, one of my jobs was “Compliance”, which basically meant finding creative loopholes in the DNC lists so we could call numbers anyway.

  44. FuryOfFirestorm says:

    My defense from these fuckers is caller ID and an answering machine. If the number begins with “0”, “1-800″, or “1-866″, I let the answering machine get it, since it ends up being a telemarketer/sales recording 99% of the time. Now here’s the funny part: my answering machine is set to pick up after four rings. These people have called me so often, they hang up in the middle of the 3rd ring, or just before the fourth ring ends. So even knowing this, they call just to hang up the phone! This makes absolutely NO FUCKING SENSE, since it wastes time they could use bothering other people!

  45. ILoveVermont says:

    About those car warranty offers you get in the mail: the companies buy lists of cars of specific ages from your state motor vehicle department. That also explains how they can follow you around when you change addresses. Ironically, here in Vermont, a citizen can’t buy this information, only commercial interests can. Go figure.

  46. ViperBorg says:

    @Marsupial: Good thing you put “was”.
    Some of my anger towards you subsided with that word.

    • Marsupial says:

      @ViperBorg: Yes — “was”. It was about three years ago that I left there, hating myself and everyone at that place. I’ve spent a lot of time since them working on destroying the telemarketing industry, so hopefully I’ve made up for some of my part.

  47. Ilovemygeek says:

    My husband and I both get those Car Warranty calls. His is 10 years old and has over 100K miles on it we know its expired, thanks m’kay. The most annoying part is that when I got my new iPhone, I got a new number. Not 24 hours later these brain trusts started calling.

  48. Cervantes3773 says:

    @InfiniTrent: Ha ha, I love that line.

    I’ve gotten four calls over four weeks from these asshats. The calls all routed through New Brunswick with an extra digit so I wouldn’t/couldn’t call back. Bastards, these are the numbers:
    506-221-49276
    506-226-19878
    506-221-31573
    506-227-64211

    I’ve asked all four times to be taken off the list and they call me at work so I can’t use the air horn tactic. However, I’m going to use some of the tactics recommended on this board until the 31 days on the Do Not Call list kick in.

    I’m also thinking of using the reverse telemarketing scheme where you ask them tons of questions to waste their time… Hm….

  49. shimane says:

    1) There seems to be a growing financial robo call phishing scam unfolding nationwide. Learn more at:[thinkdodone.typepad.com]

    2) Bummer that politicians are exempt from this law.

    We are fighting back, for the American voter.

    1 – Creating a Political Do Not Call Registry
    2 – Testifying in the US Senate about robo calls (Sen. Feinstein’s Robocall Privacy Act)
    3 – Forcing states to enforce existing robo call laws (CA, MN, NJ, etc..)
    4 – Getting politicians to take a do not robo call pledge (7 have)

    Learn more.

    Shaun Dakin
    CEO
    http://Www.StopPoliticalCalls.org
    A non-profit fighting for the privacy of the American voter

  50. rockyrr says:

    i recently got fired from this company because i was not scamming enough people on the phone.i am very suspicious of them now because they trained us not to give out our real names, company name or any other vital information that can indentify us.the name of the person in charge in charge of the illegal calling is Ali Kahn and one of his nasty mouth associates Alex sanchez, who is aka arnold peters.both young pricks. They use a special VOIP system and a paid advertiser to place the calls to people on the do not call list, thats why the feds can’t crack them down as yet.