You may be surprised – and you will certainly be relieved – to hear that the criminals behind the scam warranty phone calls – or so-called “robocalls” or “robodialing” – have actually been caught, and are being prosecuted by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). It turns out that a huge number of the calls were made by Christopher Cowart and his [Page no longer available – we have linked to the archive.org version instead] company, calling names and numbers supplied by a company called Voice Touch that is owned by James Dunne and Maureen Geisen Dunne, and using Caller I.D. spoofing technology developed by Damian Kohlfeld.
All but Kohlfeld reside in the Fort Lauderdale and Daytona Beach area. Florida is, unfortunately, notorious as a breeding ground for scammers and spammers, giving rise to the saying “Florida, the Nigeria of the U.S.”
FTC Chair Jon Leibowitz called the operation “one of the most aggressive telemarketing schemes the FTC has ever encountered.” Leibowitz said that “I’m not sure which is worse, the abusive telemarketing tactics of these companies, or the way they try to deceive people once they get them on the phone. Either way, we intend to shut them down.”
Cowart hotly denies any wrongdoing, claiming that he was “undeniably mislead” by James and Maureen Dunne. “We were told that it was co-registration data. We gave him a test and he delivered. We had no reason not to believe what was said,” claims Cowart. (You can see [Page no longer available – we have linked to the archive.org version instead] and you can see Christopher Cowart’s Facebook page here.)
Cowart goes on to claim that after obtaining the contact info from the Dunnes, Transcontinental Warranty’s telemarketing employees started getting complaints from their
victims leads, saying that they were on the Do Not Call (DNC) registry, so what the heck was Transcontinental doing calling them? Cowart claims that as a result, he terminated the relationship with the Dunnes and Voice Touch in December.
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Christopher Cowart also maintains that they had never had that sort of complaint problem before, “but with the volume of calls we were making, some were going to get through.”
But he goes on to vehemently deny that he has done anything wrong. “We’ve admitted to doing nothing wrong as to how we sold it, nor will we ever. The fact is, 140 employees were put out of work and we hope to restart operations with the blessing of the FTC, as it were.”
[Without opining as to whether Cowart is guilty or not, I would like to point out that when I was involved in the very first anti-spam litigations, the spammers always tried to appeal to the judges by crying about how all of their employees would be put out of business – at Christmastime – in cold Chicago. Wah wah.]
That he is but a victim himself seems to be a running theme in Cowart’s life. Take, for example, the lie on his LinkedIn profile wherein it states that he attended the Hebert Law Center at Louisiana State (he didnt’). “I didn’t put that up there. I never go on LinkedIn,” Cowart told Fox news. (Cowart’s LinkedIn profile has since been changed, although the old version is still available in some Google search caches.)
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James Dunne, who claims to have brokered more than $40million worth of extended warranty dialing with various companies, including Cowart’s, is himself no stranger to legal woes. In the past he’s been charged with battery, trespassing, a false bomb report, firearms violations, and even indecent exposure.
Similarly, Kohlfeld has a criminal record, having served time for robbery in the early 90s.
Still, both Kohlfeld and Dunne, like Cowart, maintain their innocence. “All you can do is comply and hopefully the truth will set you free. I’ll take my licks for whatever they find that I did wrong, but at the end of the day, I think all I did was broker long distance. The truth will come out,” says Dunne.
Kohlfeld told Fox News that “I have spent the last 15 years writing software and designing/building computer networks for several companies. Some of these companies are on the Fortune 500 list. Throughout my adult life, I have held positions of great responsibility and have always faithfully executed those responsibilities.”
In addition to other penalties, the FTC is requesting that the Court seize the assets of the defendant corporations and use them to make restitution to Cowart&Co.’s victims.
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