CA Couple Settles FTC Charge, Accepts Telemarketing Ban

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A couple who ran an office-supply marketing business agreed yesterday to a ban from telemarketing in a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission over charges of deceptive sales practices.


The couple, Leslie and Suzette Oppenheim, also agreed to pay $100,000 to repay consumers who the FTC said were duped into accepting and paying for unordered shipments of office supplies from their company, Pacific Office Systems, Canoga Park, CA.


The FTC filed suit against the Oppenheims and their company in September 2000 as part of Operation CopyCon, a sweep of fraudulent office-supply schemes involving telemarketing. Several office-supply marketers were charged with posing as the regular supplier of office materials for companies and billing for unordered supplies.


In the case of Pacific Office Systems, the couple targeted small and midsize businesses, the FTC said. After an initial contact under false pretexts, in which they obtained the name of the business's regular supplier along with the name of the person at the business responsible for ordering supplies, the couple would ship unordered items at a substantially higher-than-usual price, according to the charges.


The couple would later ship more supplies at even higher prices if the business paid for the initial unordered items, the FTC said.


In addition to the telemarketing ban and restitution payment, the Oppenheims agreed to a ban on sales of their customer lists. They are liable for a $5 million suspended fine if the FTC discovers they have made misrepresentations in their financial statements.


The settlement was filed in U.S. District Court for Central California in Los Angeles.


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