Robocalls to 30M Americans on 'Do Not Call' Registry Lead to $1.6M Fine for N.J. Brothers

A massive robocall scheme launched by a New Jersey-based company has settled a suit from the Department of Justice on behalf of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), as of Friday.

The three brothers who ran the company—Joseph, Raymond and Sean Carney—have agreed to pay $1.6 million to settle the case, which accused them of making millions and millions of illegal robocalls.

The FTC's suit alleges that the brothers' company, Environmental Safety International (ESI), based out of Fairview, New Jersey, hired telemarketers to initiate calls all across the U.S. Roughly 45 million of these calls were made between January 2018 and March 2019. Additionally, around 31 million of these were illegal calls made to people on the FTC's 'Do Not Call' registry.

These scam calls reportedly began by purporting to offer free information on septic tank products, but those who listened and agreed to stay on the call were eventually given a sales pitch for ESI's "Activator 1000" line of septic products.

FTC robocall lawsuit
A massive robocall scheme launched by a New Jersey-based company has settled a suit from the Department of Justice on behalf of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), as of Friday. This photo shows the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) building as seen on 19 September 2006 in Washington, DC. Paul J. Richards/Getty Images

"The complaint also alleges that ESI sent letters to consumers who agreed to buy their products but had unpaid invoices, falsely claiming that they would be referred to a 'national collection agency' or to an attorney," the FTC's press release read. "However, ESI never took either of these actions."

The settlement stipulates that ESI must be dissolved within 30 days. Google search results for the company indicate that it has been closed permanently.

All three brothers have agreed to terms that include a lifetime ban on telemarketing operations. Joseph and Sean Carney, who were officers at ESI, will be responsible for paying the $1.6 million fine to the U.S. Treasury, while Raymond Carney will pay $15,000. The brothers will also surrender residential properties in relation to the settlement.

Joseph and Sean Carney are prohibited from attempting to collect further payments in relation to their septic tank sales. The unpaid balances of ESI customers have also been cancelled.

Newsweek could not reach ESI for comment at its last listed number. The FTC was also asked for comment on the settlement, but has yet to respond.

Elsewhere, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has taken new steps recently to stem the often overwhelming tide of robocalls in the U.S., The New York Times reported. As of June 30, the FCC requires phone companies to log their internal efforts to recognize and prune scam calls on their network in the Robocall Mitigation Database. By September 28, the FCC will require these companies to deny calls from sources that have not officially registered with the Commission.