I-Team: State cracks down on telemarketers, investigators raid boiler rooms

Local business owner faces felonies

LUTZ, Fla. - Telemarketing and Do Not Call violations top Florida's list of consumer complaints. Now state investigators are cracking down on the violators.

State law enforcement officers tell us they spent weeks planning this raid. They suspected an illegal boiler room operation inside.

Joan Poppeck and others who registered their numbers on the Do No Call list reported calls investigators say came out of a phone bank at Morgan Air in Lutz.  John Mulvihill said he's also on the do not call list and Morgan Air telemarketers called over and over again.

The state reports 107 Do Not Call complaints in the last two years involving this company. Some called the I-Team and during our investigation, officers with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services invited us along on their unannounced visit.

Two hours after they arrived state investigators arrested Morgan Air owner Brainard Morgan on a felony charge of telemarketing without a license.

According to the arrest report, not only was the business unlicensed, none of the seven employees working the phones were licensed telemarketers--- something required by Florida law.

Brainard Morgan faces a total of eight felonies involving unlicensed telemarketing. 

The state levied a $19,000 fine for calling people on the Do Not Call law. I asked the owner of Morgan Air for an interview or a statement. His attorney Timothy Taylor responded via this email.                                                                                                            

"I am the attorney representing Brainard Morgan. Mr. Morgan was arrested for violations of the Telemarketing Act.  On August 4, 2011, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services sent Mr. Morgan a letter stating that it appeared he was exempt from the licensing requirements under the Telemarketing Act. In good faith, Mr. Morgan was conducting business under this exemption. The department now believes he is not exempt. Mr. Morgan is working with the department to ensure he is operating in compliance with Florida law.

Mr. Morgan's company received the list of phone numbers for telemarketing from a third-party provider. That list was certified by the provider as having all numbers from the Do-Not-Call list removed or "scrubbed" from the list.

It appears that the list provided to Mr. Morgan did contain numbers from the Do-Not-Call list.

Morgan Air Conditioning tried to eliminate all numbers from their calling list that were on the Do-Not-Call list. Anyone who requested to be removed from the calling list should not have been called again and any subsequent calls to that number were against company policy. Morgan Air Conditioning will no longer do business with the third-party that provided the certified phone list.

There are hundreds of thousands of phone numbers on the Do-Not-Call list in the calling area where Morgan Air Conditioning customers reside.

Morgan Air Conditioning obviously does not want to call numbers on that list as it is against Florida Law and those individuals are not going to become customers. Any calls that were made to individuals on the Do-Not-Call list were completely accidental. Mr. Morgan regrets any problems this may have caused any of those who received calls who should have been removed from the calling list."

There are more than half a million people on the state's Do Not Call list and thousands of complaints pour in each month. The best way to protect yourself is to make sure your number is on both the federal Do Not Call list and Florida's Do Not Call list. If a telemarketer won't stop calling, then report it.

To get on the national Do Not Call list go to FTC.gov . The state's registry can be found at 800helpfla.com . You can report violations to either agency.

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