New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs Files Action Against Two Monmouth County Men and Their Companies for Allegedly Defrauding Senior Citizens in the Telemarketing and Sale of Emergency Medical Response Systems
NEWARK – Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino and the Division of Consumer Affairs have filed an action against two Monmouth County residents and their businesses for allegedly defrauding senior citizens through “highly aggressive and misleading” telemarketing sales of emergency medical response systems.
A nine-count Complaint, filed by the State in the Superior Court, Chancery Division in Monmouth County, alleges that Ezra Rishty, of Oakhurst and Larry J. Ansell, of Tinton Falls, and their businesses, pressured elderly consumers into buying emergency alert wireless systems that were never delivered, did not operate properly, or did not operate at all. The companies named in the complaint are Life Aid Connect, Inc.; Safety Alert USA Limited Liability Company a/k/a Med Aid Alert; and Mobile Alert, Inc.
“These defendants are accused of shamefully targeting senior citizens in a telemarketing blitz that employed deceitful and aggressive tactics to coerce them into buying emergency alert systems that in some cases couldn’t even be activated in the areas they lived,” said Attorney General Porrino. “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.”
“No consumer, especially vulnerable senior citizens, should be hounded by overly-aggressive telemarketers who won’t take no for an answer, especially when the sellers are pushing services that don’t work as promised, as these defendants allegedly did,” said Steve Lee, Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. “We will vigorously enforce our consumer protection laws and penalize anyone found engaging in this kind of unscrupulous marketing.”
The defendants represented that the emergency alert systems they sold allowed users to summon medical help via home-based or GPS satellite systems. The systems ranged in price from $159 to $299, and cost between $34.95 and $39.95 a month in monitoring fees.
According to the State’s Complaint, the defendants engaged in deceptive marketing and sales practices that included:
- Operating as telemarketers in New Jersey without being registered with the Division.
- Making telemarketing sales calls to hundreds of consumers who were on the federal “Do Not Call Registry.”
- Making telemarketing sales call to consumers even after those consumers requested that defendants remove them from their call list.
- Misleading consumers with unsubstantiated claims that consumers needed the systems because of their “serious medical issues.”
- Selling refurbished systems that were misrepresented as “100 percent brand new.”
- Selling systems to consumers who lived outside the defendants’ GPS service area and as a result, were not able to use the systems.
- Accepting consumer payments and then failing to provide them with the systems for which they paid.
- Automatically renewing consumer contracts for the systems, contrary to defendants’ representation that there are “no long term contracts.”
- Charging the credit card accounts of consumers who, after initially providing their credit card information, declined to purchase the systems.
- Representing that consumers who purchased systems would receive protection “anywhere in the U.S. around the clock 24/7”, when such was not the case.
- Representing that the system “connects with our monitoring center within seconds,” when such was not the case.
- Failing to provide refunds to consumers who purchased systems which did not operate properly or at all.
The State alleges that these defendants violated the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act (“CFA”), the Advertising Regulations, and the Telemarketing Do Not Call Law and related regulations. The State seeks consumer restitution, civil penalties, and the reimbursement of attorneys’ fees and costs. The State also seeks to vacate the corporate charters of Life Aid Connect and Mobile Alert and cancel the certificate of formation for Safety Alert. The State also seeks enhanced civil penalties from Rishty under the terms of a 2009 Consent Judgment he entered to settle the State’s allegations that credit repair companies he operated violated consumer protection laws.
Investigator Maisha Boyd within The Office of Consumer Affairs’ Office of Consumer Protection conducted these investigations.
Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Koziar of the Consumer Fraud Prosecution Section within the Division of Law is representing the State in this action.
Consumers who believe they have been cheated or scammed by a business, or suspect any other form of consumer abuse can file an
online complaint with the State Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting its
website or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey) or 973-504- 6200.