Verizon stomps on "Velveteen Rabbit" robocalls

The Velveteen Rabbit

Perhaps they were just trying to hide behind the cute tale of a cuddly rabbit come to life, but Verizon Wireless has today filed a lawsuit to stop a telemarketing group from bombarding its customers with robocalls touting the upcoming film, "The Velveteen Rabbit."

The lawsuit states that over 10 days in early February, nearly 500,000 calls were made to Verizon Wireless customers and employees from the telephone number 917-210-4609. When customers answered these calls to their wireless phones they heard either a prerecorded voice message or an individual reading a script promoting the anticipated release of the film, Verizon said.

Many of these calls came in rapid succession, indicating the use of an autodialer to place the calls. For example, between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Feb. 13, nearly 11,000 calls with the same caller ID were made, an average of one call every 0.32 seconds, and nearly 10,000 calls were made from a number with the same caller ID between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Feb. 6, an average of one call every 0.36 seconds, Verizon stated.

The lawsuit, filed in US District Court in Trenton, alleges Feature Films for Families, Inc. illegally used an autodialer to call Verizon Wireless customers on behalf of a company called Family 1 Films, based in Los Angeles.

The lawsuit alleges violations of the Federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which makes it illegal to use an autodialer to make calls to wireless phones, as well as state fraud and privacy laws. Verizon Wireless has also filed a motion seeking a preliminary injunction to stop the defendants from making these calls.

The Federal Trade Commission has placed restrictions on such calling. 

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