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Feds Shut Down Robocaller Targeting Elderly on Medical Devices

A telemarketing operation that tricked seniors into paying for a “free” medical alert system has been permanently shut down under a settlement agreement announced on Thursday with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Florida Attorney General’s office.

The Orlando-based operation, Worldwide Info Services, was accused of using deceptive and illegal robocalls to bilk people out of nearly $23 million. “One thing that made this scam so successful was its use of robocalls claiming the device had been ordered for them by a friend or loved one and that was wholly untrue,” said Steven Baker, director of the FTC’s Midwest region. (Click here to listen to robocall.) Those who fell for the con and agreed to take shipment were billed a $34.95 monthly monitoring fee, even when the system was not installed or activated. The FTC received almost 60,000 complaints from people who got these robocalls despite having their phone number in the national Do Not Call Registry. The law firm that represented WorldWide Info Services in this case told NBC News it had no comment on the settlement. The FTC has tips that explain what to do if you receive a robocall.

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IN-DEPTH

-- Herb Weisbaum, NBC News contributor