Monmouth telemarketers face state complaints
Two Monmouth men, who allegedly conducted high-pressure and misleading telemarketing campaigns to sell emergency medical response equipment to seniors, are subjects of a nine-count complaint filed by the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs.
Ezra Rishty, of Oakhurst, and Larry J. Ansell, of Tinton Falls, are accused of using unscrupulous means to sell wireless alert systems through companies branded Life Aid Connect, Inc., Safety Alert USA LLC, trading as Med Aid Alert, and Mobile Alert, Inc.,according to information from the office of New Jersey Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino's office.
The announcement arrives less than a week since Townsquare's David Matthau reported moves in the AG's office to prosecute underhanded and harassing telemarketers.
The State alleges that Rishty and Ansell violated the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, advertising regulaitons, the Telemarketing Do Not Call Law, and related regulations.
It is not Rishty's first encounter with the State involving consumer fraud allegations, investigators said.
Prosecutors seek payments for customer resititution, civil penalties, and attorney fees and costs. They also seek to revoke the corporate charters for Life Aid Connect and Mobile Alert, and cancel the certificate of formation for Safety Alert.
Additionally, the State is pursuing enhanced civil penalties against Rishty, pertaining to a 2009 settlement for allegedly violating consumer protection laws while operating credit-repair companies.
Investigators contend that the equipment that either failed to function as expected, failed to operate at all, or was never delivered. Porrino, in prepared comments, added that in many cases, the systems couldn't be activated in areas where the customers live.
"We will not allow New Jersey companies to browbeat or trick customers into buying goods or services that they don't want or don't work as promised," Porrino said.
Authorities claim that Rishty and Ansell promoted the equipment as a means to summon medical help through home-based or GPS-oriented satellite systems. Prices varied from $159 to $299, with subsequent monthly fees of $34.95 to $39.95.
Among the allegations, Rishty and Ansell are accused of:
- failing to register as telemarketers with DCA;
- calling people who had previously asked to be stricken from their lists;
- citing unsubstantiated "serious medical risks" that prospective buyers faced;
- selling refurbished systems as new; selling systems to people outside their GPS service area;
- taking payment without delivering items;
- automatically renewing contracts while touting no long-term agreements;
- applying credit charges to people who had opted not to buy;
- promising, but not providing, around-the-clock service anywhere in the United States;
- guaranteeing, but not delivering, nearly-instantaneous connections to monitoring centers;
- failing to supply refunds for malfunctioning, or non-functioning, equipment.
Charges are accusations. Defendants are presumed innocent unless, and until, found guilty in a court of law.
Suspected consumer abuse can be reported through DCA's online complaint form, or by phone at 1-800-242-5846 or 972-504-6200.