Telemarketing Fraud in Chicago: Regulating Selling Activity

aaron-burden-149693-copy-300x225Although Chicago would like to make itself a friendly place for businesses, there are some types of businesses that will never be welcomed here. One of them is telemarketing fraud, an infringement on consumer protection laws. This offense has gotten the attention of legislative bodies and the wider legal community because it affects communities in a big way. A particularly resourceful criminal can defraud a whole segment of the community and leave them in difficult circumstances. It is for this reason that the offense is recognized as being serious and attracts prosecutorial interest whenever the facts are proven. Underpinning the law is the expectation that businesses will follow a code of ethics. Unfortunately, there are some industries that do not abide by such a code.

The self-regulation model has failed in a world of cutthroat competition. Those who play by the rules end up being priced out of the market whilst those who are taking consumers for a ride are given an expressway to seemingly insurmountable success. The law is clear about the obligations to sell in an honest manner, regardless of the temptation to take competition to its zenith. The victims are typically trusting and vulnerable. These have always been aggravating features in virtually any crime that you can think of in Chicago. The courts have continued the tradition of punishing those offenders who target the most vulnerable.

Reporting and Gathering Evidence

It is not easy to either prosecute or defend these cases. The investigative process is long and tedious. First of all, the chain of criminal activities can take place over a long period of time, during which the victim may not even realize that he or she is being victimized. Secondly, the embarrassment at being taken for a ride so easily might mean that some of the victims are not willing or able to testify in court. At other times, the sheer number of victims is so large that the prosecutor has challenges in curating the list in order to identify the ones that are most likely to succeed in court.

The after-conviction procedures are also not that simple. Typically, the court would want to offer some restitution to the victim and impose fines on the defendant. However, there are instances in which the defendant is no longer in any position to pay a fine, let alone meeting the obligations of restitution. Some defendants anticipate the court process and are able to liquidate and spend all their ill-earned gains before a prosecution is brought to bear. These reasons may mean that there is an inordinately long gap between the commission of the crime and its reporting. That then leads to an even longer period before conviction and sentencing.

The Nature of Offenses

Telemarketing fraud is a wide area of practice that defies simply explanations. It may incorporate specific selling material or outright theft. At other times there are some unfair business practices that straddle the fine line between bare acceptability and illegality. Some of the cases have involved:

  • Poor credit reporting,
  • Harassment,
  • Robocalls,
  • Junk messaging,
  • Hidden fees/charges,
  • Abuse of credit cards,
  • Overcharges, and
  • Contract fraud.

Prosecutions may be started at the local level or they may alternatively refer to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which focuses exclusively on the abuse of the phoning system (see Sundae Williams case). Currently the state is trying to work on a preventative and educative approach in order to reduce the number of victims. That does not mean that there is a letdown in the number of prosecutions for those that engage in telemarketing fraud. If you need a great lawyer to take your case, contact David Freidberg attorney at law now at (312) 560-7100.

(image courtesy of AaronBurden)