PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Like countless people, Brett Wells of Oregon City is sick and tired of unwanted phone calls from companies pitching products or services.
Wells is fighting back with a federal lawsuit against 3 companies and their owners. He and his lawyer believe they have done what many find difficult to do: figure out which companies are behind the robocalls.
The lawsuit was filed on Monday in Federal Court in Portland. It says Wells received at least 275 calls to his home phone and at least 35 calls on his cell phone in a 4 year period from the companies. His lawyer wrote each “sells a get-rich-quick scheme to people throughout the United States, including Oregon, via unsolicited prerecorded telemarketing calls.”
The lawsuit says Wells is entitled to $500 for each call but the damages could swell to $1500 per call if the court decides the companies knew what they were doing was illegal.
The lawsuit described a typical call “included a recorded pitch from a ‘Coach,’ reference a business opportunity, a promise to make money within ten to fourteen days, and various web site links (such as veterantowealth.com or freedom8000.com).”
The suit names three companies: 8 Figure Dream Life Style of Wyoming; Millionaire Mind Enterprises of Delaware; Super Affiliates of Colorado.
Brian Kaplan is named in the suit as a co-owner of all 3 companies. By phone from Colorado, he told KOIN 6 News he has not been notified about the lawsuit.
“I didn’t call Brett Wells and never have called Brett Wells. It’s news to me,” said Kaplan.
KOIN 6 News asked if he does telemarketing.
“Nope, we don’t do any of that stuff,” said Kaplan.
KOIN 6 News asked if he’s affiliated with the 3 companies.
“The stuff you’re bringing up is very, very old – so it’s not relevant,” he responded before ending the conversation.
Wells’ lawyer, Whitney Stark of Portland, accuses the companies of violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
If it’s a home line, it’s illegal to robocall if the company does not have prior authorization. For instance: it is legal for your cable company to call you but not a random company like a cruise line.
The lawsuit says it is also illegal for telemarketers to utilize ‘caller ID spoofing’ which is disguising or changing the phone number the call is coming from.
The suit says the companies violated the law by not providing the name of the company calling or providing a telephone which was answered during regular business hours. The suit says the number went to an unanswered line that played a prerecorded message attempting to sell products and services.
In theory, anyone receiving robocalls could do the same thing Wells is doing and go after them in federal court. In reality, it is difficult to do, because consumers usually have a hard time figuring out who is behind the calls. Hiring a lawyer to help can be tough. The case has to be a money maker for a lawyer, which means a consumer would have to document or record a large number of calls from a particular company to drive up the number of potential $500/$1500 violations.
In Wells case, his lawyer is also asking for punitive damages “to punish Defendants… and to deter others.”
KOIN 6 News has been unable to reach the 2 other people named as owners in the lawsuit, or the companies themselves.