Verizon Wireless on Spammers’ Trail

In any language, unwanted telephone solicitation, or spam, is a
crime, according to Verizon Wireless.

The company said it filed two lawsuits against three
Florida-based telemarketers for the illegal solicitation of its customers.

Verizon Wireless is asking a Somerville, N.J., Superior Court to stop
Miami-based All Star Vacations and Marketing Group, Orlando’s Travel and
Tours Marketing, and Cambridge Marketing and Financial Services of
Deland, Fla., from soliciting its customers.

Between November 2005 and December 2005, All Star Vacations and
Marketing Group along with Travel and Tours Marketing, made more
than 500,000 Spanish-language pre-recorded calls to Verizon Wireless,
Verizon spokesperson
Debra Lewis told

According to Verizon, this is believed to be the first involving Spanish-language messages. Spanish-language spam more than doubled during
2005, growing to 13 percent of all spam, according to TrendMicro, an anti-virus software firm.

Callers were informed they had won a resort trip and
instructed them to call a toll-free number to claim the prize.

When Verizon called the number, they were told by the
Spanish-speaking representative that 100 people had been picked and they
needed to provide a credit card number with expiration date, Lewis said.

Although the messages were recorded in Spanish, “Verizon customers
all across the country, including California and Oregon,” were called,
according to Lewis.

The second lawsuit claims Cambridge Marketing and Financial Services
made 55,000 calls to Verizon Wireless customers telling them they had
won a Ford Explorer and asking that they call a toll-free number to
obtain their award.

Along with the injunction, the carrier is asking for unspecified
money damages. The federal Consumer Telephone Protection Act forbids
telemarketers to use auto-dialers when the recipient must pay for
incoming calls.

It costs Verizon Wireless’ customer service center $6.50
for each customer calling to complain of spam, Lewis said, adding the federal
law allows for $500 in damages per call.

Companies named in the lawsuits could not be reached for comment.

Earlier this month Verizon won $10,000 from Passport Holidays, after
the Ormond Beach, Fla., company sent the carrier’s customers 98,000
text messages informing them they had won a Bahamas cruise.

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