Massive Caribbean Cruise Lines Robocall Operation Shut Down

The robocall campaign ran from October 2011 through July 2012 and averaged approximately 12 to 15 million illegal sales calls per day

Massive Caribbean Cruise Lines Robocall Operation Shut Down
Image: Pixabay
February 23, 2017

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and 10 states—including North Carolina—have closed the book on the remaining defendants who assisted a Florida-based cruise line company in running an illegal telemarketing campaign that flooded consumers with billions of unwanted robocalls.

In settling the charges, Fred Accuardi and his companies are barred from robocalling and illegal telemarketing, as well as from helping anyone else make such calls.

In early 2015, the FTC and its state partners alleged that that the companies involved in the scheme illegally sold cruise vacations using political survey robocalls. The FTC and states filed charges against—and reached settlements with—most of the defendants in the case, including Caribbean Cruise Line, Inc. (CCL).

According to the FTC, the CCL robocall campaign ran from October 2011 through July 2012 and averaged approximately 12 to 15 million illegal sales calls per day. Consumers who answered these calls typically heard a pre-recorded message telling them they had been selected to participate in a 30-second research survey, after which they would receive a "free" two-day cruise to the Bahamas. In reality, the calls were designed to market CCL's cruises and various up-sell packages. The illegal robocalls generated millions of dollars in revenue for CCL.

"My office received thousands of complaints from North Carolinians who received these robocalls," said North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein. "Calling people and making false claims is against the law, and my office will not allow it. Caribbean Cruise Line will no longer be able to harass and trick people in this state."

The FTC and states' complaint charged Accuardi and his companies with assisting and facilitating the illegal calls by providing robocallers with hundreds of telephone numbers, making it possible for them to choose and change the names that would appear on consumers' caller ID devices, funding a part of the robocalling campaigns, and hiding the robocallers' identities from authorities.

The proposed settlement order announced this week bars Accuardi and his businesses from: 1) initiating, or causing anyone else to initiate, any robocalls or helping anyone else make robocalls; and 2) engaging in illegal telemarketing practices. The proposed order also includes a judgment of $1.35 million, which will be suspended after the defendants pay $2,500. If the FTC finds the defendants have misrepresented their current financial condition in any way, the entire judgment will become due.

The attorneys general of North Carolina, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Washington, as well as the Tennessee Regulatory Authority, helped the FTC in bringing this case.