FTC Shuts Down Multi-Million Dollar Cramming Business Inc21

Inc21 supposedly sells web hosting and other Internet-related services, but the FTC says that in reality it contracted with offshore telemarketers who helped it cram charges onto unsuspecting customers’ phone bills, earning $19 million over the past five years. Customers who complained about the charges said they were either never contacted in the first place, were promised a free trial, were told that the telemarketer was just verifying business information, or explicitly refused Inc21’s offer and were charged anyway.

A judge issued a Temporary Restraining Order and a Preliminary Injunction against the company pending trial. The judge wrote that Inc21 “orchestrated this overall scheme and set in motion an army of telemarketers who committed fraud. Even if Inc21 did not approve of the fraud (and it seems likely that it did approve), the fact remains that Inc21 is responsible for organizing this engine of fraud and reaping its profits.”

Inc21 gave the FTC recordings that it said proved the charges were authorized, but the FTC says they aren’t convincing:

The FTC alleged that in many cases, the recordings were doctored to misrepresent the call and the consumers’ responses. In other cases, the voices on the tapes are not those of the consumers who were supposedly on the calls.

The FTC charged the defendants with unfair and deceptive acts, in violation of the FTC Act and the Telemarketing Sales Rule.

Inc21 also does business as Inc21.net, Inc21 Communications, Global YP, NetOpus, Metro YP, JumPage Solutions, GoFaxer.com and Fax Faster.com, Jumpage Solutions Inc., and GST U.S.A. Inc.

“FTC Halts Massive Cramming Operation that Illegally Billed Thousands” [FTC via ConsumerAffairs.org] (Thanks to MichiganTelephone!)