Phone fraud comes in many forms, as most crimes do, and it’s not always obvious that a particular version is actually a crime. The FTC has just shut down a company that was running a specific kind of phone fraud scam that involved pressuring victims to make donations to a fake charity for disabled people and pressured people into buying insanely overpriced goods.
The scheme was the work of a pair of companies called American Handicapped Inc. and American Handicapped and Disadvantaged Workers Inc., both run by a man named Adli Dasuqi, and the FTC alleged that the companies were making unsolicited calls to consumers, pressuring them to make donations that would help disabled workers. The callers often claimed to be disabled themselves, which was typically not true, and said that the donations would help pay the workers’ wages. They also told victims that they would get free gifts in the mail as thanks for their donations.
“In reality, most of the telemarketers weren’t disabled, and only a small portion of the company’s earnings were paid to AHDW’s few disabled employees. And those free gifts people got in the mail? They came with invoices, followed by harassing calls demanding payment for products people never ordered,” Aditi Jhaveri of the FTC said in a post.
The two companies in this case both were for-profit entities, making it illegal for the callers to claim they were from a charity. The companies and Dasuqi agreed to a settlement with the FTC, which includes shutting down both of the companies and a financial judgment of more than $4 million, which has been suspended. The second part of the scam involved shipping low-cost household items for huge amounts of money.
“The defendants charged inflated prices for the merchandise, such as $30 for two light bulbs and $100 for 60 trash bags, according to the complaint. Dasuqi received consumer complaints from the Arizona Better Business Bureau and law enforcers in Iowa, Minnesota and other states but failed to stop the scheme, the FTC alleged,” the FTC said in its announcement of the agreement.