Office of the Attorney General
Attorney General Conway Issues Refund Checks from Settlement with Suretouch Long Distance

Press Release Date:  Friday, August 28, 2009  
Contact Information:  Shelley Catharine Johnson
Deputy Communications Director
502-696-5659 (office)

Attorney General Jack Conway announced today that more than 1,000 Kentuckians will receive refund checks as part of a settlement in a telemarketing enforcement action against Direct Connect Consulting Inc. of Alpharetta, Georgia and related defendants which marketed "SureTouch" Long Distance service. The action was filed in May 2008 alleging the defendants had engaged in deceptive marketing and illegal billing practices. The case was filed jointly by the Attorney General’s Office of Consumer Protection and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) as part of a national telemarketing fraud sweep called "Operation TelePhoney."

Restitution is being provided to 1,078 former SureTouch customers on a pro rata basis from the funds recovered in the lawsuit. The Attorney General’s Office is mailing checks today ranging from $5 to $433.44, with the average check totaling $56.29. The Office of the Attorney General recovered $60,683 in restitution and $14,317 for fees and costs of investigation.

"I am pleased that we were able to secure some restitution for Kentucky consumers who were victims of deceptive marketing and illegal billing practices in connection with the sales of "SureTouch" long distance calling cards," said General Conway. "I want to thank our partners at the FTC and also Kentucky State Police Sergeant David Millay who assisted with the investigation. This was a team effort and a fine example of how law enforcement cooperation at the federal and state level can help produce a good result for consumers."

The Attorney General's Office of Consumer Protection and the FTC's federal complaint alleged that the defendants' telemarketers committed numerous violations of state and federal telemarketing laws, including placing unauthorized charges on consumers’ cards, offering free goods or services and then engaging in a deceptive "verification process" in which telemarketers purported to obtain consumers' consent to charge consumers for items not authorized. In some cases, telemarketers pretended to be calling from the consumers' credit card company about possible unauthorized charges and despite telling consumers they were canceling the charges were in fact charging consumers for the products or services. In other instances, consumer "verifications" consisted of rapidly read statements that were unintelligible and used by the company to justify billing consumers for items they did not order.

An ex parte restraining order was entered by the United States District Court in Atlanta, Georgia at the urging of the Attorney General’s Office and the Federal Trade Commission at the time of filing. The restraining order included the appointment of a receiver to seize the assets of the companies and individual defendants and manage the companies. The companies have ceased operations.

In addition to Direct Connection Consulting, Inc., the case was filed against Digicom, LLC d/b/a DigiTouch Long Distance, and the companies' owners, Elliott Borenstein and Joann Winter. The case was settled in January 2009 against all defendants except Winter.  Winter settled her case with the FTC in July, 2009. In settling the case the Defendants did not admit any violation of law or liability.

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