FTC wins record penalty in robocalling case

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The court ruled that Maspakorn and Navestad ran the "Cash Grant Institute," which made more than 8 million robocalls, including more than 2.7 million calls to phone numbers on the National Do Not Call list.

The calls claimed the consumer qualified for cash grants that were readily available from the government, private foundations or wealthy individuals. 

The calls directed consumers to websites featuring pictures of the U.S. Capitol Building and President Obama and stated that "grant money exists for almost any purpose and does not need to be repaid."

Only after paying a fee did the consumers learn that it was very difficult to obtain a grant.

In addition to the fines, the court barred the defendants from marketing grants or credit-related products. They also were ordered to dispose of the personal information they collected within 30 days.

Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), who sponsored the bill that created the Do Not Call list, praised the FTC's action.

"With Americans struggling through some of the toughest economic times in generations, it is the height of unscrupulousness to deceive consumers with the false promise of imminent financial relief," Markey said. "The Commission has been a tough cop on the beat for consumers, and I commend the court for agreeing with the FTC.” 

--Updated at 3:20 p.m.