A financial services telemarketer who allegedly violated several requirements of the Federal Trade Commission’s Do Not Call Rule – from calling hundreds of thousands of consumers on the National Do Not Call Registry to failing to transmit accurate caller ID information – has settled the government’s charges and is banned from telemarketing to consumers for five years.
In November 2007, as part of a multi-case crackdown on Do Not Call violators, the government charged Global Mortgage Funding, Inc. (Global Mortgage) and its owner, Damian Robert Kutzner, with unlawfully calling consumers on the Do Not Call Registry in an attempt to sell financial products, including mortgages and related financing services. The complaint also charged the defendants with violating the FTC’s Do Not Call Rule by failing to transmit accurate caller ID information, failing to pay fees required to access the Registry, and abandoning calls by not connecting consumers to a representative within two seconds after they answered the phone. Following a lengthy investigation by the FTC, the lawsuit was filed and litigated by the Department of Justice on the Commission’s behalf.
The agreed-upon court order announced today bans Kutzner and anyone working with him from participating in telemarketing to consumers, and from helping others involved in telemarketing to consumers, for five years. It also permanently bars Kutzner from violating the Telemarketing Sales Rule, as well as its Do Not Call provisions, which include calling consumers on the National Do Not Call Registry, failing to provide accurate caller ID information, calling consumers who have said they do not want to be called, and abandoning calls.
The order imposes a $6 million civil penalty against Kutzner and Global Mortgage, which has been suspended due to their inability to pay. Both defendants have filed for bankruptcy. The order also imposes reporting and record-keeping provisions to help monitor Kutzner’s compliance. Finally, the order ensures that Global Mortgage will not resume its operation or benefit from its past conduct.
Both Global Mortgage and Kutzner had a previous run-in with the FTC, which sued them in 2002 for allegedly sending “spoofed” e-mails that offered mortgages and purported to be from legitimate banks. Global and Kutzner signed a consent decree in 2003 in which they agreed to pay over $60,000 to resolve that litigation and accepted a court order prohibiting them from future “spoofing” and other misrepresentations.
The Commission vote authorizing the filing of the stipulated order was 4-0. The order was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, and it was signed by the judge and entered by the court on July 17, 2009. The order settles the United States’ charges against Global Mortgage Funding, Inc., doing business as Global Realty, Inforte Financial, and U.S. Escrow; and Damian Robert Kutzner, individually and as an officer or director of Global Mortgage Funding, Inc.
NOTE: This stipulated final order is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission by the defendants of a law violation. A stipulated final has the force of law when approved by the judge and entered by the court.
Copies of the Commission complaint and stipulated final order are available from the FTC’s Web site at http://www.ftc.gov and from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,500 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s Web site provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.
(FTC File No. X080009; Civ. No. SACV07-1275 Doc (PJWx)