Remaining Defendants Linked to Massive Cramming Operation Settle Charges

The operation placed charges on consumers' phone bills for voicemail services they never signed up for or authorized

Remaining Defendants Linked to Massive Cramming Operation Settle Charges
Image: NCCC
June 23, 2017

The remaining defendants behind a massive landline cramming operation agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charges that they placed more than $70 million in unauthorized charges on consumers' phone bills.

The settlements with defendants Steven Sann, Terry Lane—and the corporate defendants who operated the scheme—resolve the remaining charges the FTC brought against American eVoice, Ltd., eight other companies, and four individual defendants.

In its complaint, the FTC alleged that the operation placed charges ranging from $9.95 to $24.95 per month on consumers' landline phone bills for voicemail services they never signed up for and never even knew they had.

The lead defendant, Sann, his wife Lane, and the corporate defendants have now agreed to settle the FTC's charges. Robert Braach, an accountant who provided financial and management services for the scheme, settled similar charges in November 2016.

Under the terms of the settlements, the defendants are permanently banned from all telephone billing—landline or mobile. The orders also ban all defendants from unauthorized billing in general.

The settlements with Sann, Lane, and the corporate defendants impose judgments of $41.9 million that are either partially or entirely suspended based on an inability to pay.

Under the terms of the settlements, Sann will have to forfeit more than $500,000 in ill-gotten funds that he used to fund his IRAs, and will also surrender an Infiniti Q56 and a Nissan 350Z. Most of Sann's other assets have already been transferred to the Chapter 7 Trustee administering his bankruptcy estate. In a parallel criminal case brought by the United States Attorney for the District of Montana, Sann pleaded guilty to criminal charges of money laundering and wire fraud and was sentenced to two years in prison.

The settlement with Braach imposes a judgment of $71 million that was suspended after Braach transferred $75,000 to the FTC.

If f any of the defendants are found to have misrepresented their financial condition, the entire amount of the respective judgment will become due.

Find out more about cramming and what to do if you suspect it.