Pennsylvania Sues Mortgage Lead Company for Do-Not-Call Violations
Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett said Wednesday he was suing a Baltimore, Maryland-based mortgage company for what he alleged is "the largest-ever systematic effort to violate the Do Not Call program since it was created." The company, Direct LeadSource, Inc., is accused of using illegal telephone solicitations to aggressively market mortgage products to consumers. But this lawsuit has a twist, too: the company in question is run by Cory Ruppersberger, the son of House of Representatives member C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD). The attorney general's suit claims that the younger Ruppersberger used an Indian call center to contact consumers in 36 Pennsylvania counties. The complaint seeks as much as $500 million in civil penalties for alleged violations of the state's consumer protection laws, telemarketing rules and mortgage banking laws, alleging that Ruppersberger's company placed in excess of 500,000 calls to consumers in the state to market various first and second mortgages. "This is the most extensive campaign of telemarketing calls to consumers on the Do Not Call list ever investigated by my office," Corbett said in a statement. "They invaded the homes of thousands of Pennsylvania residents with unsolicited and unwanted phone calls, marketing mortgage loans that they were not licensed to sell." That's right -- Ruppersberger and his business are not licensed by the Pennsylvania Department of Banking to sell mortgages in the state, according to the AG. (We should note that Ruppersberger's business is a lead generation business; a line of work that tends to attract a higher sleaze factor to it than most). Corbett said that Ruppersberger and his company committed numerous other violations of state law, including calling consumers who had previously asked not to be called again, calling consumers after 9:00 p.m and failing to identify themselves to consumers, among others. Corbett said the Attorney General's Bureau of Consumer Protection received complaints from consumers in Adams, Allegheny, Beaver, Berks, Blair, Bucks, Cambria, Carbon, Chester, Clearfield, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Erie, Fayette, Jefferson, Juniata, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lehigh, Luzerne, Lycoming, Mercer, Mifflin, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia, Pike, Schuylkill, Susquehanna, Union, Venango, Warren, Westmoreland, Wyoming, and York. The Baltimore Sun, which covered this story Wednesday, said that the elder Ruppersbuerger had no comment on his son's actions. "This is a business matter that my son Cory is working through with his attorney," he said in a statement. "I have no involvement in his company." The Sun also reported that Ruppersberger's MySpace page, in which he goes by the name C-Note, includes a boast that he can "contact clients that aren't being reached by other telemarketing lists because of DNC [Do Not Call] scrubbing." His profile information has since been set to private.