Madigan Sues Two Prepaid Calling Card Companies

Companies Targeted Immigrant Communities, Sold Cards with Up to 50% Fewer Minutes than Advertised and Hidden Fees

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Chicago, IL-(ENEWSPF)- Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced on November 2 that the arrest of a La Salle County man on child pornography charges marks the 27th arrest in “Operation Glass House,” her continuing crackdown on the most active traffickers downloading and trading child pornography on the Internet.

Ryan Theurer, 24, of Leland, was charged today with three counts of Aggravated Child Pornography, Class 2 felonies punishable by a three- to seven-year prison term in the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) and three counts of Child Pornography, a Class 3 felony punishable by two to five years in IDOC. Leland police arrested Theurer early today, and he was transported to the La Salle County Jail. He will appear in bond court on Thursday.

“Offenders who trade and download child pornography may think that they’re committing this crime behind closed doors,” Madigan said. “But in reality, they’re living in a ‘glass house.’ We can track them online committing these heinous acts, and we can find them and put them behind bars where they belong.”

Investigators with the Attorney General’s office coordinated the arrest with the Genoa Police Department, Leland police and the La Salle County State’s Attorney. Earlier this year, Genoa police investigators pinpointed an IP address to a location on Feather Lane in Leland, where Theurer was taken into custody today. The initial investigation indicates Theurer allegedly offered more than 600 images and videos of child pornography for trade online, some as recent as Tuesday, and some allegedly containing children as young as 5 years old.

“I am pleased with the efforts of law enforcement, including the Attorney General, to aggressively track down online predators,” said La Salle County State’s Attorney Brian Towne. “It benefits the community when all representative agencies work together to seek justice.”

In August 2010, Attorney General Madigan announced Operation Glass House, an initiative to find and arrest the worst child pornographers in Illinois. Investigators use the unique identifier that each computer is assigned when it accesses the Internet, known as an Internet protocol (IP) address. In the last 60 days, more than 3,200 Illinois IP addresses were seen trading child pornography images and videos across the state by Attorney General’s Office investigators.

Madigan’s office, with a grant from the Department of Justice, runs the Illinois Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force, which investigates child exploitation crimes and trains law enforcement. Since 2006, Madigan’s ICAC task force has been involved in 392 arrests of sexual predators and provided Internet safety training and education to more than 176,800 parents, teachers and students and more than 13,400 law enforcement professionals.

The public is reminded that the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty by a court of law.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan today filed two lawsuits against Chicago- and California-based companies for marketing prepaid calling cards to consumers, particularly to immigrant communities, that offer up to 50 percent fewer minutes than advertised and are riddled with hidden usage fees.

"Consumers need to read the fine print on prepaid calling cards," Attorney General Madigan said. "Their advertising is extremely misleading about the actual number of minutes offered, and they’re loaded with hidden fees that make their value questionable at best."

Madigan filed suit in Cook County Circuit Court against Nobel Tel LLC and NTI Inc., a Chicago company. Madigan said the companies targeted marketing at immigrant consumers seeking to make international calls.

The lawsuit against NTI, which is located at 4718 N. Kedzie Ave., alleges that the company’s prepaid cards provided an average of 50 percent fewer actual minutes of talk time than the total time advertised. The company sells cards at neighborhood convenience and telecommunication stores in the Chicago area.

Nobel Tel, based in Carlsbad, Calif., sells, distributes and markets to Illinois retailers prepaid cards that are riddled with hidden fees – from hang-up fees to daily usage charges. Madigan’s investigation revealed that some cards misrepresented the actual amount of call time available. The cards’ packaging referred to "units" of time as opposed to actual minutes, where one "unit" represented only a portion of a minute of international talk time.

Madigan is asking the court to prohibit the companies from selling, manufacturing, distributing or marketing prepaid calling cards in Illinois, obtain restitution for affected consumers and impose civil penalties on the defendants for the allegations laid out in each of the complaints.

Assistant Attorneys General Andrew Dougherty and Sarah Poulimas are handling the cases for Madigan’s Consumer Fraud Bureau.


MADIGAN DEMANDA A DOS COMPAÑIAS DE TARJETAS PRE-PAGADAS

Enfocando sus Ventas en Comunidades Inmigrantes, Empresas Vendieron Tarjetas con Casi el 50 % Menos de Minutos que Anunciados y con Cargos Escondidos

Chicago — La Procuradora General Lisa Madigan hoy entablo dos demandas en contra de dos compañías de tarjetas pre-pagadas – una basada en Chicago – y la otra basada en California.

La demanda alega que estas compañías comercializaron tarjetas pre-pagadas a consumidores, en particular a comunidades inmigrantes, ofreciendo hasta el 50 por ciento menos de minutos que anunciado y con cargos escondidas.

“Los consumidores tienen que leer la letra chica sobre tarjetas pre-pagadas,” dijo la Procuradora Madigan. “Su publicidad es sumamente engañosa sobre el número real de minutos ofrecidos y contienen cargados escondidos que hacen su valor cuestionable.”

Madigan entablo la demanda en contra de Tel Nobel LLC y NTI. Inc., una empresa de Chicago en el Tribunal Circuito del Condado de Cook. Madigan dijo que las empresas enfocaron su comercialización a consumidores inmigrantes que procuran hacer llamadas internacionales.

La demanda contra NTI, que está localizado en 4718 N. Kedzie Ave., alega que las tarjetas pre-pagadas proporcionaron un promedio del 50 por ciento menos de minutos que realmente fue anunciado. La empresa vende tarjetas pre-pagadas en tiendas de abarrotes y telecomunicación en el área de Chicago.

Nobel Tel, basada en Carlsbad, Calif., vende, distribuye y comercializa, a comerciantes de Illinois, tarjetas pre-pagadas con cargos escondidos – variando entre cargos por terminar una llamada a cargos por uso diario. La investigación de Madigan revelo que algunas tarjetas distorsionan la cuantidad de tiempo realmente disponible. El embalaje de las tarjetas hace referencia a “unidades” de tiempo a diferencia a minutos reales, donde una “unidad” representó sólo una parte de un minuto de tiempo de conversación internacional.

Madigan le solicito al tribunal que le prohíba a las empresas a vender, fabricar, distribuir o comercializar tarjetas pre-pagadas en Illinois, también solicito restitución para consumidores afectados y la imposición de penas civiles en contra de los demandados por las alegaciones presentadas en cada una de las quejas.

Los Abogados Adjuntos Andrew Dougherty y Sarah Poulimas están llevando los casos.

Source: illinoisattorneygeneral.gov