Company Targeting the Elderly with Deception and Threats Shut Down
At the request of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), a U.S. district court has temporarily shut down a Brooklyn, New York-based operation that the allegedly used deception, threats, and intimidation to induce elderly consumers to pay for medical alert systems they neither ordered nor wanted.
In its complaint, the FTC charges that telemarketers for Instant Response Systems call elderly consumers – many of whom are in poor health and rely on others for help with managing their finances – and try to pressure them into buying a medical alert service that consists of a pendant that supposedly allows them to get help during emergencies.
In numerous instances, Instant Response Systems allegedly has falsely claimed during sales calls that consumers who did not order the medical alert service have, in fact, bought the service and owe the company money -- often hundreds of dollars.
The company also allegedly has shipped bogus invoices and unordered medical alert pendants to consumers without their consent, has repeatedly threatened consumers with legal action in order to induce and coerce payment, and has subjected them to verbal abuse. In addition, the FTC contends that Instant Response Systems has illegally made numerous unsolicited calls to consumers whose phone numbers are listed on the National Do Not Call Registry.
According to the FTC, consumers who tried to contact the company to dispute the false charges or find out how to return unopened packages often were unable to reach anyone. If they did reach a representative, they allegedly faced threats, verbal abuse, and demands that they pay for the product.
Based on this alleged conduct, the FTC charged the company and its principals with making illegal misrepresentations to consumers, violating the Telemarketing Sales Rule by calling phone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry, and violating the Unordered Merchandise Statute by sending consumers pendants they did not order.
The defendants charged in the case are Instant Response Systems, LLC, also doing business as Response Systems, B.B. Mercantile, Ltd., Medical Alert Industrial, and Medical Alert Services; and Jason Abraham, also known as Yaakov Abraham, individually and as an officer of Instant Response Systems.
Abraham was previously sued by the FTC in 2003 for selling international "drivers' licenses" and phony university diplomas.