AG Zoeller joins FTC, nine states in settlement with Caribbean Cruise Line, telemarketing companies for massive robocall campaign


INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, the Federal Trade Commission and nine other state attorneys general have taken action against Florida-based Caribbean Cruise Line, Inc. (CCL) and several telemarketing companies for their alleged role in a massive telemarketing campaign resulting in billions of robocalls to consumers nationwide.

CCL is accused of making illegal sales pitches for cruises to the Bahamas by tying them with political survey robocalls. Political survey robocalls are not illegal under federal law. Most robocalls, including sales pitches and political surveys, are illegal in Indiana.

“Caribbean Cruise Line’s illegal robocalling campaign violated our telephone privacy laws and harassed millions of people,” Zoeller said. “These tactics aren’t fooling anyone, and all parties involved in this scheme are being held accountable.”

According to the joint complaint filed by Zoeller, the FTC and the other states, the defendants’ robocall campaign ran from October 2011 through July 2012 and averaged approximately 12 to 15 million illegal sales calls a day. The Indiana Attorney General’s Office received nearly 1,000 complaints from consumers related to the robocall blitz.

Consumers who answered these calls typically heard a prerecorded message from “John from Political Opinions of America,” who told them they had been “carefully selected” to participate in a 30-second research survey, after which they could “press one” to receive a two-day cruise to the Bahamas.

Consumers who completed the survey and pressed one for their cruise were connected to a live telemarketer working on behalf of CCL to market its cruise vacations. In addition to the cruise, these telemarketers also sold pre-boarding hotels, cruise excursions, enhanced accommodations and other travel packages.

The robocalls generated millions of dollars for the cruise line.

The complaint charges CCL with violating the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) as well as state telephone privacy laws by using robocalls to sell cruise vacations. The complaint also alleges that two other companies, Linked Service Solutions, LLC and Economic Strategy LLC, violated federal and state laws by placing the robocalls that generated leads for CCL.

The complaint also charges a group of five interrelated companies and their owner, Fred Accuardi, with assisting and facilitating illegal calls. The complaint alleges that these defendants provided robocallers with hundreds of telephone numbers to use when making calls, made it possible for robocallers to choose and change the names that would appear on consumers’ caller ID devices, and hid the robocallers’ identities from authorities.

In addition, the Accuardi defendants helped fund the robocallers by sharing fees generated by accessing caller ID names. The five companies charged with assisting and facilitating the robocall violations are: Telephone Management Corporation, T M Caller ID, LLC, Pacific Telecom Communications Group, International Telephone Corporation and International Telephone, LLC.

The following defendants have agreed to court orders settling the charges against them: CCL; Linked Service Solutions, LLC and its owners, Scott Broomfield and Jason Birkett (LSS); Economic Strategy LLC, and its owner, Jacob deJongh; and Steve Hamilton.

The proposed settlement orders bar CCL and the other settling defendants from engaging in abusive telemarketing practices, including calling consumers whose phone numbers are on Do Not Call lists, calling anyone that has previously said they don’t want to be called again, failing to transmit accurate caller ID information and placing illegal robocalls. The orders also require CCL to monitor its lead generators on an ongoing basis and Hamilton to terminate any clients placing telephone calls that would violate the TSR.

The proposed settlement orders also impose: 1) a civil penalty of $7.73 million against CCL, which will be partially suspended after CCL pays $500,000; 2) a partially suspended civil penalty of $5 million against LSS and its owners, upon payment of $25,000; 3) a partially suspended civil penalty of $295,000 against Economic Strategy and its owner, upon the payment of $2,000; and 4) a partially suspended civil penalty of $750,000 against Steve Hamilton, one of the owners of Pacific Telecom Communication Group, upon payment of $2,000. The penalties are partially suspended based on the defendants’ inability to pay.

Litigation continues against Fred Accuardi and the five companies charged with assisting and facilitating the illegal conduct alleged in the complaint.

Indiana will receive nearly $30,000 in the settlement to be deposited in the Telephone Privacy Fund to support the Telephone Privacy enforcement activities of the Attorney General.

The following other states were involved in the settlement: Colorado, Florida, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and Washington.

A copy of the complaint is attached. All other relevant documents can be found here:

Hoosiers can sign up for Indiana’s Do Not Call list or file a complaint against a violator by calling 1-888-834-9969 or visiting