You wonder why some people don’t get sent directly to jail. The Brooklyn man behind the Instant Response System, or IRS, medical alert service wins my nomination.
True, it’s a good thing that a federal judge ordered the Instant Response medical alert scam shut down. But shouldn’t the scammer pay a bigger price?
IRS mastermind Jason, or Yaakov, Abraham targeted adults over 70 who lived alone on fixed incomes. He wrote a script and hired telemarketers to sell them a medical alert pendant that would supposedly provide 24-hour service seven days a week.
Telemarketers asked a series of questions like:
Have you ever fallen down?
Do you have dizzy spells?
How long did you lie there before being found?
What would happen if you were not found?
The telemarketers played on peoples’ worst fears and told them the pendant would cost between $817 and $1,602.
Once people gave their names and addresses, IRS shipped the pendants and the harassment for payment began, even if people never ordered the pendants.
Telemarketers repeatedly threatened physical injury, financial ruin and even the possibility of jail time. They also sent threatening letters and phony police reports to people who refused to bend to the intimidation.
The threats got results. Abraham and IRS took in more than $3.4 million from consumers, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The agency sued IRS and asked a federal judge to permanently shut down the business.
Judge I. Leo Glasser in the Eastern District of New York agreed with the FTC and found that Abraham “…knowingly made misrepresentations to hundreds of consumers over a five-year period.” He also pointed out that in 2003 a federal judge in Washington, D.C., shut down an Abraham scam that marketed fake international driver’s permits and barred Abraham from engaging in telemarketing.
The judge ordered that the $3.4 million IRS took in should go back to the hundreds of consumers all across the country who forked out the money.
But we think Jason (Yaakov) Abraham deserves a stiffer penalty.