A federal court has temporarily pulled the plug on a nationwide telemarketing operation that used illegal robocalls to trick seniors across the U.S. and Canada into buying medical alert devices they had not ordered.
The prerecorded phone message (listen to the robocall) was cleverly produced so that it did not sound like a typical recording.
In its lawsuit, the Federal Trade Commission said fraudulent robocalls told seniors they were about to be shipped a "free" alert system that had been purchased for them by a family member or friend. And not just any system, the recorded message falsely said it was a Life Alert—the original "I've fallen and can't get up" product advertised on TV.
(Life Alert had nothing to do with this. In fact, it sued to have the robocalls stopped.)
The FTC received more than 67,000 complaints about this telemarketing campaign.
(Read more: Free service proves it can block pesky robocalls)
"These telemarketers used illegal robocalls to make a sales pitch that was 100 percent false," said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection in a statement. "Their M.O. was to take advantage of older people's concerns about their health."