CallerId4U, Inc. is a Competitive Local Exchange Carrier (CLEC) registered in Oregon, Washington, and North Dakota. They also own phone numbers in California and Nevada under the name 33 Wireless Inc. They are believed to be located somewhere in the Los Angeles CA area, however they use a mail forwarding address in Seattle to create the illusion that they have a physical presence in the state of Washington.
CallerId4U appears to have been set up for the sole purpose of profiting from unsolicited telemarketing. Between January 1, 2012 and November 30, 2012, consumers filed 138,184 complaints with the Federal Trade Commission regarding illegal telephone calls originating from phone numbers belonging to CallerId4U, Inc.
Paul Maduno, CEO of CallerId4U, insists that his firm is an innocent provider of “compliance” services to telemarketers, however they are not registered with the FTC to provide “Do Not Call” compliance services to telemarketers. They offer absolutely no services that will prevent consumers on the “Do Not Call” registry from receiving unsolicited telemarketing calls in violation of Federal law. In fact, their services are designed to allow telemarketers to hide behind false and deceptive Caller ID text.
Paul Maduno and his partner Luis Martinez have quite a history involving illicit telemarketing. In 2009, their business was called Digitcom Services, Inc., and they partnered with Steve Hamilton and a company named TM CallerID LLC, which was operated by Fred Accuardi. After TM CallerID got sued by Verizon for their role in a massive unsolicited “robocalling” operation, Maduno and Martinez appear to have rolled the infrastructure from Digitcom into a new public utility they created named CallerId4u. Hamilton and Accuardi separately created a utility named Pacific Telecom, which is responsible for millions of illicit calls. CallerId4u appears to share similar contracts, internal software and other resources as Pacific Telecom.
Overview of Callerid4U’s Scheme
Paul Maduno, CEO of CallerId4U, enters into business agreements to provide the following essential services to the individuals running the illegal telemarketing campaigns:
CallerId4U, Inc. Gives Telemarketers:
- Phone Numbers: Telemarketers are given blocks of phone numbers to use for their “robocall” campaigns.
- Caller ID Deception: Telemarketers are given access to a web application that allows them to set the Caller ID text for each phone number. They can set it to something deceptive, such as “Card Services,” “Customer Service,” “Home Security,” depending upon the scam being run that particular day.
- $ Cash: Yes, CallerId4U also pays the telemarketers for the calls they make. More outbound calls = more cash for the telemarketers.
CallerId4U, Inc. Receives:
- $$$ Lots of Cash from Your Phone Company: CallerId4U generates money from each robocall through a small tariff your phone company must pay to access the caller ID information for the incoming call. Your phone company covers these costs by building them into your monthly bill: Yes, you’re paying to see the name “Card Services” appear on your phone, even if you don’t answer the call.
- Get out of Jail Free Card: As a registered telecom utility, CallerId4U simply says that it’s their evil “subscribers” who are making the illegal calls. They even have a consumer complaint form on their web site to make the charade a bit more convincing for a casual observer. Not surprisingly, consumer complaints are apparently ignored, because the highly profitable anonymous “subscribers” have been free to continue making millions of calls each week without interruption.
How CallerId4U, Inc. Profits Directly from Illegal “Robocalls”
CallerId4U owns 763,000 phone numbers Oregon, Washington, North Dakota, California, and Nevada. These phone numbers are used exclusively for a telemarketing revenue sharing scheme.
CallerId4U provisions their phone numbers in 3rd party “CNAM” callerId databases. These databases associate a phone number with the caller ID text that will be displayed during a phone call. When a phone call is placed using one of these phone numbers, the telephone company receiving the call must pay a small fee of less than a cent to retrieve the caller Id text from the database. These are called CNAM “dip” fees and refer to the process of “dipping” into the Caller Id database to retrieve the calling name text (CNAM.)
CallerId4U provides groups of CNAM provisioned phone numbers to telemarketers for use in their calling campaigns, along with the ability to set the Caller Id text for each phone number. In exchange, both parties agree to share in the CNAM revenue that is generated from their calls.
These telemarketers place millions of telemarketing calls per week and generate significant CNAM revenues. However, these telemarketing calls consist of unsolicited telemarketing “robocalls,” which blatantly violate State and Federal telemarketing laws. Examples of these “robocalls” include the infamous “card services” credit card fraud scheme (detailed here), “home security” sales pitches, and “Computer technical support” identity theft calls.
Here is a copy of the services agreement that CallerId4U enters into with their affiliated telemarketers:
Service Order Attachment: Callerid4u SOA 20130107 v2.pdf
Page 3 of the Service Order Attachment shown above gives an overview of the payment process that turns Robocalls into Revenue. Just to be clear, these are payments made from CallerId4U, a public utility, to the individuals conducting the illegal telemarketing campaigns:
A master services agreement is also signed by telemarketers:
Master Services Agreement: Callerid4u MSA 20120723 v11.pdf
It’s important to note that these two agreements are virtually word for word copies of the two telemarketer agreements belonging to Pacific Telecom’s “shell” company in Belize, International Telephone Corporation. In fact, the meta-data for the file “Callerid4u MSA 20120723 v11.pdf” shows that the author is none other than Fred Accuardi of Telephone Management Corporation, who last modified the file on July 23, 2012.
This is an important detail, as Fred and F Antone Accuardi are involved in operating a “robocall” revenue sharing scheme through Pacific Telecom. In December of 2012, a class action lawsuit was filed against them for violations of telemarketing laws.
Telemarketer Agreements belonging to Pacific Telecom’s “shell” company in Belize:
ITC CNAM CABS (NR) Addendum.pdf
ITC CNAM (NR) Service Order Acknowledgement.pdf
CallerId4U’s Dubious Telemarketing “compliance” Services
CallerId4U attempts to evade responsibility for the illegal robocalls made with their phone numbers by claiming that they simply provide “compliance” services to telemarketers. However, they are not registered with the FTC to provide compliance services to telemarketers as a “service provider” and do not subscribe to the Federal Do Not Call registry. They offer absolutely no services that will prevent consumers on the “Do Not Call” registry from receiving unsolicited telemarketing calls in violation of Federal law.
CallerId4U’s website itemizes the following “compliance” services:
Our Caller ID Compliance Bundles Feature:
The service that allows telemarketers to easily change the caller ID text associated with their phone numbers is simply not used for compliance services. Our research shows that CallerId4U’s customers and business affiliates enter false and deceptive information into the Caller Id text that appears on a consumer’s phone when they receive a robocall. Examples include the notorious “Card Services” and “Account Services” names that everyone has seen. This is a clear violation of Federal law.
The “IVR” acronym in the list above refers to “Interactive Voice Response,” which is the automated “opt-out” system heard when a consumer tries to return a call to a CallerId4U phone number. This system records the consumer’s telephone number in a database and later emails this list of phone numbers to the telemarketer at the end of each day.
However, it is clear that these “opt-out” services do not bring a telemarketer into compliance with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) or the Telemarketing Sales Rule, especially when consumers never legitimately “opted-in” to receiving calls from CallerId4U and their telemarketers in the first place. The FTC describes it this way:
Under the Telemarketing Sales Rule, the vast majority of calls that deliver a prerecorded message trying to sell you something are illegal, unless you’ve given written permission for the caller to call you. These “robocalls” are illegal even if your phone number is not registered on the National Do Not Call Registry.
The FTC allows entities to offer telemarketing compliance services by subscribing for access to the Federal Do Not Call Registry through their”Service Provider” registration:
Service Provider (“SP”) – includes any person or business that provides assistance to sellers or telemarketers to engage in telemarketing, such as list brokers and service bureaus.
CallerId4U’s illusion of offering “compliance” services is further destroyed by reviewing their telemarketer agreement, which states:
Customer and their customers are responsible for complying with all FCC and FTC and State telemarketing laws.
Callerid4u MSA 20120723 v11.pdf, Page 2.
CallerId4U Hiding Behind Fake Business Address
In regulatory filings, CallerId4U purports to have a place of business in Seattle, Washington. Even their legal agreements state that their principle place of business is located in Washington:
CALLERID4U, Inc. (CALLERID4U) , a Delaware Corporation having its principal place of business at 93 South Jackson Street, Suite 38-480, Seattle WA 98104-2818
CallerId4U Master Services Agreement: Callerid4u MSA 20120723 v11.pdf
It turns out that CallerId4U’s “principle place of business” is actually just a mail forwarding service and is definitely not their real office location:
Based on our research, CallerId4U real office is located in the Los Angeles, California area, most likely in the vicinity of Torrence CA, where Paul Maduno has a residence.
CallerId4U Facilitates Illegal Telemarketing
CallerId4U receives thousands of “opt-out requests” from consumers who have received robocalls from their phone numbers. Although it should be very apparent to them that their phone numbers are being utilized for illicit telemarketing schemes, they fail to take any meaningful action to stop the calls. The obvious reason is because doing so would eliminate the source of their income.
In our previous article documenting a fraudulent “card services” call from a CallerId4U phone number, we demonstrated how the calls from that specific number started in early 2012 and appeared to continue even to this day.
However, even if CallerId4U claims to be ignorant of this illegal activity, they still appear to be in clear violation of 16 C.F.R. §310.3(b) of the Federal Telemarketing Sales Rule, which states:
Assisting and facilitating . It is a deceptive telemarketing act or practice and a violation of this Rule for a person to provide substantial assistance or support to any seller or telemarketer when that person knows or consciously avoids knowing that the seller or telemarketer is engaged in any act or practice that violates §§310.3(a), (c) or (d), or §310.4 of this Rule.
The FTC publishes a guide to help businesses comply with the Telemarketing Sales Rule. This is what they have to say about the “Assisting and Facilitating” rule:
Assisting and Facilitating Sellers or Telemarketers Who Violate the Rule is Prohibited
It is a violation of the Rule to substantially assist a seller or telemarketer while knowing — or consciously avoiding knowing — that the seller or telemarketer is violating the Rule. Thus taking deliberate steps to ensure one’s own ignorance of a seller or telemarketer’s Rule violations is an ineffective strategy to avoid liability. The help that a third-party provides must be more than casual or incidental dealing with a seller or telemarketer that is not related to a violation of the Rule. For example, cleaning a telemarketer’s office, delivering lunches to the telemarketer’s premises, or engaging in some other activity with little or no relation to the conduct that violates the Rule would not be enough to support liability as an assistor or facilitator.
Third parties who do business with sellers and telemarketers should be aware that their dealings may provide a factual basis to support an inference that they know — or deliberately remain ignorant of — the Rule violations of these sellers and telemarketers. For example, a third party who provides sellers or telemarketers with mailing lists, help in creating sales scripts or direct mail pieces, or any other substantial assistance while knowing or deliberately avoiding knowing that the seller or telemarketer is engaged in a Rule violation may be violating the Rule.
Can Anyone Stop Unlawful Calls from CallerId4U?
The FTC and regulators in the States where CallerId4U is registered have had full knowledge that this scheme is taking place since 2011. Unfortunately, these regulatory agencies have failed to take any action to put an end to this conduct.
At this point, the best way to encourage regulators to take action may be through a social media campaign that includes Facebook and Twitter. It is important to hold our elected leaders accountable for their failure to enforce telemarketing laws.