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Blumenthal Takes Action Against Telemarketing Scams That Claim to Raise Money for Charitable & Political Causes

Blumenthal announces new legislative effort to close loopholes exploited by scammers and raised in recent investigative reporting, In letters to the FEC & FTC, Blumenthal also calls on enforcers to use, “every tool available to fight scam PACs, charity fraud, and other telemarketing scams that prey on Americans’ generosity and political passions”

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Today, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) announced a new oversight and legislative effort to combat telemarketing calls, online scams, and other fraudulent schemes that use charitable and political causes for private enrichment. In letters to the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Blumenthal identified possible steps for legislation and sought agency feedback on additional measures to crackdown on telemarketers and scammers who evade federal and state scrutiny by hiding under the cover of Political Action Committees (PACs) and nonprofit organizations.

“These entities purported to raise money for political causes, veterans, firefighters, and cancer patients but spent most or all of their donations on fundraising, benefitting their ringleaders and the telemarketing companies they collaborated with,” Blumenthal wrote to the agencies.

In his letters, Blumenthal cited a recent New York Times investigation which found that while a telemarketing network raised $89 million in political donations for different causes, it only spent 1 percent on actual campaign activities and contributions. By updating FEC transparency requirements and exploring legislation and other recommendations, Blumenthal said, “Reforms should ensure that scammers cannot simply partner with knowns PACs to circumvent the law, and that PACs are accountable for the telemarketers and consultants they work with.” A similar scam was recently highlighted by the HBO series, “The Telemarketers.”

Blumenthal also raised the need for legislative changes to allow the FTC to enforce consumer protection statutes against nonprofits that enable or benefit from fraud or violating telemarketing rules, update rules and penalties for telecom providers and call centers who transmit illegal robocalls, and remove barriers the prevent the enforcement of wire fraud statutes, transparency requirements, and other laws.

“In order to ensure our laws are robust and vigorously enforced, I am engaged in an oversight and legislative effort to ensure that agencies have sufficient legal tools and resources to stop these deceptive telemarketing schemes,” wrote Blumenthal.

“As new technologies continue to make scams and robocalls easier, charity and PAC scams are likely to escalate, especially as we approach the upcoming Presidential elections. I therefore urge your agency to use every tool available to fight scam PACs, charity fraud, and other telemarketing scams that prey on Americans’ generosity and political passions,” Blumenthal concluded.

The text of the letters are available here and here.