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FTC Whacks "Rachel From Card Holder Services" 289

coondoggie writes "Just two weeks after it challenged the public to come up with a better technological way to stop incessant robocalling, the Federal Trade Commission pulled the plug on five mass calling companies it said were allegedly responsible for millions of illegal pre-recorded calls from 'Rachel' and others from 'Cardholder Services.' 'At the FTC, Rachel from Cardholder Services is public enemy number one,' said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz at the announcement of the cases."
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FTC Whacks "Rachel From Card Holder Services"

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  • by conureman ( 748753 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @01:16PM (#41843781)

    How she got my number is beyond me.

  • by dpbsmith ( 263124 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @01:17PM (#41843793) Homepage

    Simple as that. Glad to know someone was taking it seriously. And your next impossible mission, should you choose to accept it... "the chimney company."

    • This is why we have government regulators.

      If the crooks had just invested a little money on phony think tanks and PR, we'd be hearing about how "over-regulation" was discouraging "job creators".

      At least one of the major "free market" political donors has a record of getting sued and prosecuted by neighbors and customers.

  • Halleluja! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by chill ( 34294 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @01:20PM (#41843831) Journal

    I have been receiving no less than 3 calls a week for the last 6 months from "Card Services" with this robocall. The numbers were always different, so blocking didn't help.

    Often the calls came in as late as 9:00 p.m., which was seriously annoying.

    • Re:Halleluja! (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 01, 2012 @01:42PM (#41844147)

      There is a reason the numbers are always different.

      Not many know that caller ID is in no way reliable or secure. If you have a PRI/BRI/digital phone circut/whatever (Pretty much anything but an analog POTS line) you can specify the calling party number however you like. It doesn't even need to be a valid phone number! (It's fun to call your friends with the caller ID number of '666' and speak in a creepy voice)

      Legitimately, this is so you can treat your physical lines as an aggregate pool in a phone system so your user can have the correct caller ID from any outgoing line in the pool.

      Technically, however, it's illegal to spoof your caller ID for the purposes of evading identification. The caller ID number should resolve to something you can call back on. Either that, or it should report as caller ID blocked. (You can request that the phone company block all caller-id blocked calls.)

      Nowadays, the law (correctly, imo) pretty much makes running profitable robocall operations illegal. Since for-profit robocallers are now fly by night illegal operations anyway, they flaunt the caller ID spoofing laws.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        (It's fun to call your friends with the caller ID number of '666' and speak in a creepy voice)

        But first, get some sulfur hexaflouride [].
        It sounds amazing [].

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Not so fast with the joy of victory there Bubba Chill, I received one of these calls about half an hour ago. Plus TFA says that the FTC filed complaints in court - not that the companies were shut down. So as always, the summary may have embellished the truth a bit in order to make the front page.

      Also, remember what's happening next week? It's an election. One major party (R) and one notable second string party (L) have vowed to reduce federal bureaucracy to that American business will be free to go about t

    • The only call I've ever received other than Card Services on our new Comcast landline has been the collectors because of tweakers that got a pay-day loan on an out-of-date check they found whilst looting my place. No one but Rachel and Comcast know that number.
      Won't someone think of the poor telemarketers? I presume if I didn't hang up then some zombie would've then tried to engage me in conversation.

    • I had similar problems. I finally talked to someone and had a several hour screaming match filled with legal threats and personal insults, after which the calls stopped for me.
  • YES! Kill the sluts (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Rachel has been calling me for years and the ho needed to be taken down. Nothing works to stop the bitch. Screaming into the phone, swearing at them, putting the phone down and not talking, pretending to be a mindless fool who can't find their cards and keeping them on the line for long periods of time. This outfit is just so lame. I had recently recorded the tones that are played when the call was transferred by pressing "1" so I could dial them directly and start bothering them.

    • by gauauu ( 649169 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @02:10PM (#41844483)

      I don't know how they actually get any "business" -- the last 3 times they've called me, I've tried playing along to see how the scam works. Somewhere along the line, as I'm telling them what my current interest rate is, they always hang up on me. It blows my mind.

      One time, though, I had fun -- my other routine is to try to explain to the poor schmuck on the line (who is probably an underpaid normal person who can't find a better job) that they are working for scammers and probably should find a different job. One lady from "Card Services" started yelling at me about how they weren't scammers, they were a organization that wants to help people and that they never break the law, and that my phone number must not actually be on the do-not-call list if they called me, because they follow the rules. It was hilarious, she carried on for 5 or 10 minutes shouting at me, and she sounded like she actually believed it.

    • by Genda ( 560240 )

      It seems the FTC has identified the miscreants. How about a couple million people converge on these places and the government just looks the other way for about... oh 10 hours. Problem solved with extreme prejudice!

  • by tfocker4 ( 2750497 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @01:21PM (#41843847) giving whoever took care of this one billion dollars.
  • foghorn? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Speare ( 84249 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @01:22PM (#41843859) Homepage Journal

    I hope the pre-recorded foghorn caller is included. I think it's offering some travel package, but since the first thing you hear is a loud lighthouse foghorn sound, I haven't listened to the pitch for the last several years. They've been attacking my office line about 3 times a year for the past decade, from different caller ID numbers.

    • I am pretty sure you are supposed to think that sound is a cruise ship horn. I was getting that on my company issued cellphone for awhile, although I have not gotten it for about a month now.
    • I get that one on my cell phone sometimes. So annoying.
    • I've gotten those. After the foghorn someone says "This is your Captain speaking" so I assume it probably is indeed a cruise ship package of some sort. I didn't get any further than the first voice clip before hanging up.

    • That one, at least, is not done with yet. I got a "*foghorn*This is your captain speaking. You've won a trip to the Bahamas!" call just this morning.
      • by bhsx ( 458600 )
        Same. This morning, and anywhere from 2-10 times per week for the past couple years.
    • My wife gets this daily, somewhere between 3:30pm and 4pm ... "Unknown Caller" all the time, same bullshit recorded message.

      As I said when the article about how to stop this ... stop allowing companies to spoof caller ids. The marketers will scream bloody murder, but if you need to put in false information of any sort, that's bordering on fraud.

      I'd like to set my phone to say "don't receive calls from anything with a fake caller id, or a blocked caller id".

      I've pretty much reached the point that my startin

      • Re:foghorn? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @02:05PM (#41844413)

        I hacked a quick script together to invoke 'mrnumber' (.com) or equiv service when my modem (yes, real modem on real landline) says the callerid (network CID, actually, so I just connect to a tcp port to get broadcasts of the CID).

        the mrnumber crowdsourced website seems to have decent enough go/noGo score so that I can just let the phone ring (let them think there's nothing connected, no person or machine there) or I can answer it if I want.

        its getting to be like email, where you want whitelists and anything not in that list gets a 2nd thought if you even want to let them pass-thru to the voicemail/ans mach.

        I have no solution for cellphones, but I'm not a big cellphone user anyway, so that solves that, for me. landline abuse is not technically hard to solve if you simply let them 'age you out' due to the line never ever being answered when they call. and if they don't give up, well, you still never get bothered. (my scheme will eventually have a hardware relay that passes thru the 2 phone wires or not, so that your phone chain, below, won't even ring or bother you).

    • I got that a few times on my company cell. Usually about once every couple of months.

      If I had the time and inclination, I'd patch through the line, then claim that I'd have to send them a check to pay for it. They give me the address, then I'd try to do unto them what Slashdot once did to that fuckhead Ralsky []. The USPS could use the boost anyway.

      (Speaking of which, I wonder if Ralsky still gets mail... *snicker*)

    • Oh god, I just posted about that one! Use those guys for shark food.
    • I havent listened to that pitch ever. If I meet someone that has lasted past the first annoying blast I will hurt them. This piece of crap call should garner exactly ZERO sales, as it is instantly annoying, and everyone should know to just hang up.

  • by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @01:24PM (#41843907) Homepage

    Now, assuming we bust all 5 companies and take everything they have, is there any way to go after the owners personally for the frauds they've committed? Or is this going to be yet another instance of the all-too-common business plan:
    1. Set up a scam company.
    2. Scam people.
    3. Government busts the company, forces it into bankruptcy.
    4. Personally, you avoided punishment because it's limited liability.
    5. Profit!
    6. Repeat as many times as you like.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 01, 2012 @01:32PM (#41844005)

      Actually one of the reasons the corporate veil can be pierced is that it is just being used as a front for illegal behavior. If you have over a certain number it's actually worse because you are subject to additional charged under RICO.

    • by JBMcB ( 73720 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @01:36PM (#41844069)

      Limited liability only protects you from torts (some private person suing you personally for something your company does.) It doesn't shield you from criminal liability. If your company breaks the law, you are personally responsible, if it was your decision. This is why Bernie Madoff is in jail - his company was defrauding it's investors, but it was his decision to do so.

      • Bernie Madoff is a chump. The pros are too big to punish.

      • by Genda ( 560240 )

        So I wonder what the prison term is for 2,000,000,000 acts of fraud, illegal phone use and misrepresentation? Please let the sentences be served consecutively!

    • by amicusNYCL ( 1538833 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @01:48PM (#41844215)

      Take a look at the 5 cases, they are linked to in the article. I like this one:

      Federal Trade Commission, Plaintiff v. ELH Consulting, LLC, also d/b/a Proactive Planning Solutions; Purchase Power Solutions, LLC; Allied Corporate Connection, LLC; Complete Financial Strategies, LLC; 3Point14 Consulting, LLC, also d/b/a Elite Planning Group; Key Tech Software Solutions, LLC, also d/b/a Key One Solutions; Emory L. Holley IV a/k/a Jack Holley, individually and as the sole member of ELH Consulting, LLC; Lisa Miller, individually and as the sole member of Allied Corporate Connection, LLC, Complete Financial Strategies, LLC, and Purchase Power Solutions, LLC; Rares Stelea, individually and as the sole member of 3Point14 Consulting, LLC; and Justin Journay, individually and as the sole member of Key Tech Software Solutions, LLC, Defendants.

      Over the 5 cases, in addition to the various corporate entities they name 12 individuals.

    • by sribe ( 304414 )

      4. Personally, you avoided punishment because it's limited liability.

      There is no limited liability for running a criminal enterprise. Limited liability only applies to owners of companies engaged in legal activities.

  • by solardiesel ( 2685491 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @01:27PM (#41843939)
    She is the only girl that has called me in the last 3 years...

    Forever Alone...
  • by WoodstockJeff ( 568111 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @01:28PM (#41843959) Homepage

    No information on when they did this, but I got a call from the outfit just two days ago, so they were still operational on Tuesday.

    Or, is this like so many other things done at the administrative level nowadays? "We shut them down, by sending a strongly worded letter to the post office box listed somewhere!"

  • by RobertLTux ( 260313 ) <.gro.nitramecnerual. .ta. .trebor.> on Thursday November 01, 2012 @01:33PM (#41844021)

    "Mr. Morden: What do YOU want?
    Ambassador Vir Cotto: I'd like to live just long enough to be there when they cut off your head and stick it on a pike as a warning to the next ten generations that some favors come with too high a price. I want to look up into your lifeless eyes and wave like this.
    Ambassador Vir Cotto: Can you and your associates arrange that for me, Mr. Morden? "

    the guys running these Call Centers can be Mr Morden.

    • Really? Because Morden got some pretty badass payback in the end. I'm not sure I want all FTC personnel to wake up tomorrow wearing Keepers.

      (I do love that quote though. And that wave.)

      • Mr. Morden what beheaded as a gift from Ambassador Londo Molari to Vir Cotto (his assistant). So Mr. Morden did not end up wearing one of the Keepers. It was Molari who got to wear the keeper when he became emperor. It was my assumption that when G'kar kill Molari and Vir became emperor that he did not receive a Keeper but that that was never entirely clear to me.
      • by Genda ( 560240 )

        Don't forget the pixieish smile with the finger wave... it made the scene. Especially later when he actually does it with Morden's head on a pike... poetic justice doesn't come often, but when it does, is there anything sweeter?

        I was driving home from Arizona, on the 10, just outside Palm Springs on a Sunday afternoon. A gold Cadillac came flying around me going over 90 mph, almost taking my front end off, then proceeds to weave through traffic like an escapee from Mad Max. I turn to my passenger and say "W

  • Yes! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anon-Admin ( 443764 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @01:34PM (#41844039) Journal

    I am so fed up of these calls as well as the collection companies trying to collect on debts from 20 years ago.

    I did find a way to get them to pull you from the list.

    1) Set up asterisks phone system.
    2) Record the three tone sound and message that is played when you call a number than no longer exists.
    3) Set the message played to a blocked caller in asterisks to be the recording of the tones with the message that the number no longer exists.
    4) Blacklist every one of those F***ERS

    When the system detects the tone it will remove your number from the list, Even if they have someone check the number it will play the "Has been disconnected or is no longer in service" message.

    It cut my calls down to maybe one a month getting through and I just hit *32 after they get through and add the new number to the black list.

    • Re:Yes! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @01:49PM (#41844219) Homepage

      We have something similar with Google Voice. We moved our landline to it ($20 one time fee and another $20 one time fee to keep our old Google Voice number) and have it redirect calls to our cell phones. With Google Voice, you can mark a number as "spam" which means that, if they call again, they'll get a "This number is no longer in service" message.

      We've have a series of calls that wind up showing up in Google Voice but not ringing our phones. We were puzzled until we realized that there were probably robocalls from either scammers or politicians. (Cue joke about them being one and the same.) Other people probably marked them as spam so Google decided to mark all instances of calls from those numbers as spam. We can see the number that calls, but we don't get bothered with the actual call.

    • by ipxodi ( 156633 )

      The made a land-line phone that did the same thing automatically. The Telezapper []. You put one on your line and when you or your answering machine picked up, the Telezapper would play those tones (SIT Tones) before your message played. I had one and it worked well. Sadly, today's call center software is wily and has figured out that particular exploit.

      Now I just don't pick up calls from number I don't recognize. If it's valid and important, they'll leave a message.

    • by houghi ( 78078 )

      Although this is a nice workaround, apparently something better exists in Europe, or at least Belgium. The ONLY annoying calls I get are from companies I have a working relationship with AND where I left my number.

      That means about 4 or 5 calls a year if that much.

      I also never heard anything about friends that are being harassed, unless from companies they have done business with.

      I have added myself to [] so I do not get any unwanted mail from companies that do not know me. I urge ev

    • I am so fed up of these calls as well as the collection companies trying to collect on debts from 20 years ago.

      If your debt is past the statute of limitations (after 20 years I can guarantee it is) then you can file suit against the collector under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. (you can get a $1000 judgement per debt for the cost of the filing fee... pretty good ROI) Debt collectors are pure scum and most of them are borderline criminal organizations. I give them as much respect as I give pedop

      • I need more info on this!

        Ill sue them if I can, Hell I sent out cease and desist letters and they just sold it off to another company.

        • []

          IANAL, but here is what I know:

          Technically, you can sue them for any violation of the FDCPA. You file suit in your local jurisdiction. When they don't show up for the hearing (they almost never do, especially if the collector is out-of-state) you get a default judgement. Even if the debt is valid, an out of state collector can't do shit to you unless they are actually licensed to do business in your state. (they must display proof of license a
  • At least a $100K for my number alone at $1500 a pop.
  • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @01:40PM (#41844113) Homepage

    Tell me someone was 'whacked' in the mafia sense of the word? Otherwise it's just a temporary shut down which will be back soon.

    Because I get a tremendous amount of calls from these automated things claiming they can lower my interest rates.

    This one is most common of these scam calls after the free cruise my wife wins every day at 3pm on her cell phone, and the morons who claim to be from "The Windows Service Provider".

    • Sorry, but even if someone was truly "whacked", it's only temporary. "Rachel" will be replaced by "Sally", and the scam will continue.

      • Yeah, but the asshats who own the business should be fair game for a little old school hanging or something.

        You know, hang the cadavers in cages at the mouth of the harbor with a sign that says "Pirates, Ye be warned" or something.

        Unfortunately, the rules which the so-called "legitimate" telemarketers insisted be in place for the do-not call mostly just serve to shield the fraudulent ones.

  • by StormyWeather ( 543593 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @01:41PM (#41844121) Homepage

    I have noticed most of these calls come disguised via google voice numbers. They change their numbers nonstop, and the majority of the time when you press one to talk to an operator the system is overloaded and just hangs up on you. I knew they were making crazy money when I saw that. If they can't even handle the amount of traffic the robodialer is generating for them, they are obviously being very successful.

  • But I'm disappointed they wouldn't implement my suggestion: to make all robo-calls add an option to their menu.

    Here's how it would work:

    "This is Rachel from Cardholder Services. There is no problem with your account.
    Please press "1" to protect your account,
    Press "2" to hear about our other exciting offers,
    Press "9" to have 10,000 volts applied to the owner of this company's genitals."

    9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 ...

    I suppose they were right to reject my suggestion, though

  • by Peter Simpson ( 112887 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @01:52PM (#41844263)
    The skeptic in me thinks the FTC knew who these companies were all along. Five companies account for millions of unwanted calls a day, and disregard the DNC list? Seems that an operation like that would be hard to hide. Maybe the political pressure got to be too much and FTC felt they had to act? I'm not complaining, just asking why we had to put up with it for several years before there was any regulatory action.
    "Round up the usual suspects."
  • I kept putting off the robo call at my business, offering me help to maintain my company website listing on Google. What will I do now?
  • Can they do something about the one where some guy calls you, blasts a loud boat horn in your ear, and then tells you that this is your captain and you have won a free cruise or something like that? After getting a few of those I want to make "captain" walk the plank.
    • Poke the button to get a real person, talk very quietly so they bump up the volume, then blow a boat horn in their ear. $11.56 on Amazon.

  • by thePowerOfGrayskull ( 905905 ) <> on Thursday November 01, 2012 @02:03PM (#41844387) Homepage Journal

    The most annoying thing about Cardholder Services is that I know the bank I used to work for actually branded themselves as "Cardmember Services" for customer service, because they had so many cobrands and partners (airlines, hotels, etc - each with their own card branding). Which means that the legitimate bank using that name lent credence to the frauds who followed after.

    I raised a concern about it back when they first started doing it (years ago), but was just a lowly programmer who clearly couldn't understand the intricacies and nuances of branding.

    • by PRMan ( 959735 )
      This. We recently disputed a credit card charge and I got a call from "April" at "Cardmember Services". Yeah, right. I hung up on her. The phone rang right back. It was April again. She was calling about our dispute. I said, "Sorry." She said, "Yeah, I get that a lot."
  • Thank god. I talked to one of these idiots a long time ago.... I ask "what bank does this card belong to?" They say "It's your card ending in 9999" I say, that's not what I asked and hang up.

    I hope they get the death penalty. Nothing less is warranted - same goes for spammers and virus authors.

  • by McKing ( 1017 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @02:31PM (#41844721) Homepage

    As a geek, I was intrigued at the programming behind his response tree, but he is clearly a robot, albeit a very well-programmed one.

  • I was going to ask her out.

I've finally learned what "upward compatible" means. It means we get to keep all our old mistakes. -- Dennie van Tassel