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$1.04M Deception & Slamming NAL Against United Telecom, Inc.

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Released: December 20, 2012

Federal Communications Commission

FCC 12-160


Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, DC 20554



In the Matter of
)
File No.: EB-TCD-12-00000800

)

United Telecom, Inc.
)
NAL/Acct. No.: 201332170007

)

Apparent Liability for Forfeiture
)
FRN: 0013390000




NOTICE OF APPARENT LIABILITY FOR FORFEITURE


Adopted: December 19, 2012

Released: December 20, 2012

By the Commission:

I.

INTRODUCTION


1.
In this Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (NAL), we find that United Telecom,
Inc. (United or Company) 1 apparently willfully and repeatedly violated Sections 201(b) and 258 of the
Communications Act of 1934, as amended (Communications Act or Act),2 and Section 64.1120 of the
Commission’s rules.3 As discussed in more detail below, we find that United has apparently changed the
preferred telecommunications service providers of a number of consumers without their authorization, a
practice commonly known as “slamming.”4 The conduct here is especially egregious because in six of
the instances of slamming on which this NAL is based, United appears to have effectuated the carrier
change by making misrepresentations to consumers, including representations that United was the
consumer’s own carrier and that United was calling to make an adjustment to the consumer’s account to
save him or her money. Moreover, in two of the instances of slamming on which this NAL is based,
United appears to have fabricated third party verification5 audio recordings to make it appear that these
consumers authorized the carrier change. Based on our review of the facts and circumstances surrounding
these apparent violations, we propose a monetary forfeiture of one million, forty thousand dollars
($1,040,000).


1 According to the Commission’s records and publicly available information, United’s offices are located at 3550
Wilshire Ave., 17th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90010. United’s owner and president is Sapina Quayum and the vice
president is Imtiaz Hossain. United is authorized to provide resold international telecommunications services. See
ITC-214-20060925-00442, Public Notice, “International Authorizations Granted: Section 214 Applications (47
C.F.R. § 63.18); Section 310(b)(4) Requests” (Dec. 7, 2006).
2 47 U.S.C. §§ 201(b), 258.
3 47 C.F.R. § 64.1120.
4 The NAL is based on the ten complainants identified in the Appendix.
5 Third party verification, or TPV, is one of the methods a carrier may use to verify and record a consumer’s
authorization to change his or her preferred long distance carrier. The TPV procedures involve verification of a
consumer’s oral authorization to change preferred carriers by an independent third party. This verification must
strictly comply with Section 64.1120(c)(3) of the Commission’s rules, 47 C.F.R. § 64.1120(c)(3).


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II.

BACKGROUND


2.
United is a non-facilities-based interexchange carrier based in Los Angeles, California
and operating in 32 states6 and the Northern Mariana Islands. The Commission has received numerous
slamming complaints against United. Pursuant to standard Commission processes,7 the agency’s
Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau (CGB) served many of these complaints on United and
directed it to respond to the allegations and provide evidence of an authorized change in the subscriber’s
selection of a telecommunications service provider. Recently, CGB issued orders granting four
complaints against United, finding that the Company failed to provide evidence of an authorized carrier
change.8
3.
The Enforcement Bureau (Bureau) initiated an investigation of United after reviewing
complaints filed with the Commission.9 As part of its investigation, the Bureau sent United a letter of
inquiry on February 21, 2012, directing the Company to answer a number of questions regarding its
business practices and its compliance with various Commission rules.10 United submitted a response to
the LOI on March 29, 2012.11 With its response, United provided numerous complaints from consumers
who alleged that they had been slammed. As part of its investigation, the Bureau also received slamming
complaints from other sources such as various state agencies and the Better Business Bureau.

III.

DISCUSSION

A.

Apparent Violations of Section 201(b)

4.
Section 201(b) of the Act states, in pertinent part, that “[a]ll charges, practices,
classifications, and regulations for and in connection with [interstate or foreign] communication service

6 United has agreed not to do business in the state of Oregon as part of an agreement to settle allegations of
slamming and other misconduct. See “Long Distance Telephone Plan Provider Must Stop Doing Business in
Oregon,” Oregon Department of Justice, Attorney General John Kroger (June 8, 2011),
http://www.doj.state.or.us/releases/2011/rel060811.shtml.">http://www.doj.state.or.us/releases/2011/rel060811.shtml.
7 See 47 C.F.R. § 64.1150(c), (d).
8 See United Telecom, Inc., Complaint Regarding Unauthorized Change of Subscriber’s Telecommunications
Carrier
, Order, 27 FCC Rcd 5758 (CGB 2012); United Telecom, Inc., Complaints Regarding Unauthorized Change
of Subscriber’s Telecommunications Carrier
, Order, 27 FCC Rcd 5753 (CGB 2012); United Telecom, Inc.,
Complaints Regarding Unauthorized Change of Subscriber’s Telecommunications Carrier
, Order, 27 FCC 8994
(CGB 2012). During the course of this investigation, the Bureau reviewed all of the complaints and associated
TPVs (if provided) that form the basis of this NAL and concluded that slamming violations occurred in all ten
instances.
9 The Bureau initially became aware of slamming complaints against United during an investigation of a
telecommunications company owned by the husband of United’s owner. See Silv Communication Inc., Notice of
Apparent Liability for Forfeiture, 25 FCC Rcd 5178 (2010) (slamming investigation) (Silv NAL). This case and the
Silv NAL involve similar apparent misrepresentations.
10 Letter from Richard A. Hindman, Chief, Telecommunications Consumers Division, FCC Enforcement Bureau, to
Sapina Quayum, United Telecom, Inc. (Feb. 21, 2012) (on file in EB-TCD-12-00000800) (LOI).
11 Letter from United Telecom, Inc. to Federal Communications Commission (Mar. 29, 2012) (on file in EB-TCD-
12-00000800) (Response to LOI). United submitted a supplemental response to the LOI on May 4, 2012. See
Letter from Imtiaz Hossain, Vice President, United Telecom, Inc., to Mika Savir, Telecommunications Consumers
Division, FCC Enforcement Bureau (May 4, 2012) (on file in EB-TCD-12-00000800) (Supplemental Response to
LOI). The Bureau specifically requested further information from United, but received no response. See Email
from Mika Savir, Telecommunications Consumers Division, FCC Enforcement Bureau, to United Telecom, Inc.
(July 26, 2012) (on file in EB-TCD-12-00000800).
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[by wire or radio], shall be just and reasonable, and any such charge, practice, classification, or regulation
that is unjust or unreasonable is declared to be unlawful.”12 The Commission has found that unfair and
deceptive marketing practices by interstate common carriers constitute unjust and unreasonable practices
under Section 201(b) of the Act.13 In particular, the Commission has found that a carrier violates Section
201(b) by effectuating a change to a consumer’s preferred carrier through deception about its identity, or
the nature of its service.14
5.
We find that United apparently violated Section 201(b) by engaging in deceptive
practices in connection with changes to the preferred carriers of eight consumers. These apparently
deceptive practices took two forms. First, United’s telemarketer apparently misrepresented its identity
and the nature of the transaction in which it sought to engage consumers. Second, United apparently
fabricated the TPV recordings associated with certain complainants to make it appear that they had
authorized a change in their preferred carrier when in fact they had not. We find that these deceptive,
fraudulent practices are unjust and unreasonable practices that apparently violate Section 201(b) of the
Act.
1.

Apparent Misrepresentations by United’s Telemarketer

6.
In six of the violations on which this NAL is based, the complainants allege that United’s
telemarketer claimed to be, or be affiliated with, the consumer’s current long distance carrier. For
example, according to the president of Graffiti’s Pizza and Italian Café: “In December of 2011 a person
called the business claiming to be with AT&T saying that they were calling to make us aware [that] the
name on the bill would be changing but that nothing else would change.”15 Complainant Toro explained
that United’s telemarketer “called me and said that they were part of AT&T and they could save me
money. . . .”16 Still more complainants offered similar stories.17
7.
United’s telemarketer also apparently misled some consumers into believing that their
current long distance carrier was no longer offering long distance service or had merged with United. For

12 47 U.S.C. § 201(b).
13 See, e.g., Business Discount Plan, Inc., Order of Forfeiture, 15 FCC Rcd 14461 (2000) (BDP Forfeiture Order)
(finding that the company violated Section 201(b) by using unjust and unreasonable telemarketing practices such as
misrepresenting the nature of its service offerings); Telecommunications Research & Action Center & Consumer
Action
, Memorandum Opinion and Order, 4 FCC Rcd 2157 (Com.Car.Bur. 1989) (TRAC) (recognizing that Section
201(b) provides a cause of action against carriers for failing to convey sufficient information about their rates,
practices, and range of services).
14 See Silv NAL, 25 FCC Rcd at 5180-5182, paras. 5-7.
15 Complaint from Graffiti’s Pizza and Italian Café.
16 Complaint from E. Toro.
17 Complaint from Howard County Physical Therapy (telemarketer “was very insistent that she was from Verizon”);
Complaint from Rachel The Desk Set, Inc. (telemarketer claimed to be from AT&T); Complaint from Seahorse
Scuba (telemarketer claimed to be from Verizon). The Commission is empowered to propose a forfeiture penalty
for violations that occurred within one year preceding the issuance of an NAL, see infra n.50. Thus, this NAL is
based on the complaints of consumers, identified in the Appendix, who allege to have been slammed within the past
year. The Commission, however, has reviewed similar complaints during the course of this investigation. For
example, several other complainants stated that United’s telemarketer claimed to be from AT&T. See Complaints
All Good Sports; American Home Health Care; At Home Care Solutions, Inc.; Calorie Logic; Dentistry at
Springhurst; DPS Company, LLC; EA3 Auto Locators; Key Link, Inc.; Nowa Technologies; Parker Security
System; Remax Royal.
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example, one complainant said that United’s telemarketer claimed that United “was now the official
carrier for AT&T.”18 Other complainants identified told similar stories.19
8.
The Commission has ruled on numerous occasions that carriers are responsible for the
conduct of third parties acting on the carrier’s behalf, including third party marketers.20 The Commission
has held that licensees and other Commission regulatees are responsible for the acts and omissions of
their employees and independent contractors, and consistently refused to excuse licensees from forfeiture
penalties where actions of employees or independent contractors have resulted in violations.21 United has
not provided any evidence that its third party telemarketer was acting outside the scope of its engagement
or employment. Thus, pursuant to Section 217 of the Act, we find the acts of United’s third party
telemarketer to be the acts of United.
9.
United has not produced credible evidence that any of these complainants in fact
authorized a change in his or her provider. United either has not produced any verification of consumer
authorization at all, or produced verifications that are deficient, as explained below. Thus, based on the
above, we conclude that United apparently violated Section 201(b) of the Act by changing the preferred
carriers of six of the complainants identified in the Appendix through making material misrepresentations
about United’s identity and/or the purpose of its calls, and therefore without cognizable authorization
from such complainants.22
2.

Apparent Fabricated Third Party Verification Recordings

10.
According to two other consumers upon whose complaints this NAL is based, United, or
its agent,23 apparently fabricated the TPVs to make it appear that the consumer authorized the carrier
change. One complainant states that United’s verifier “played a recorded message that I supposedly
approved to make them my long distance provider. It was clearly evident that the person impersonating
me was not me. In fact they asked the person to verify my mother[’]s maiden name [to] which the person
responded Bonner? That is not my mother[’]s maiden name.”24 Another complainant suggests that

18 Complaint from Omni Swivel International (“I asked 4 times if she was working for AT&T and all 4 times the
answer was “YES, I work for AT&T”).
19 Again, the Commission has received complaints about similar conduct that occurred over a year ago. For
example, several other complaints stated that United’s telemarketer claimed that United had merged with AT&T or
was providing AT&T’s long distance service. See Complaints of 5 Boys N Me Candle Company; Amma Design;
Beyond Bronze; CARE Medical Billing, Inc.; Jessup Foot and Ankle Specialists; Milestone Investment; Social
Inbox Corp.; Team Worldwide.
20 See Long Distance Direct, Inc., Memorandum Opinion and Order, 15 FCC Rcd 3297, 3300, para. 9 (2000); see
also
47 U.S.C. § 217 (“[t]he act, omission, or failure of any officer, agent, or other person acting for or employed by
any common carrier or user, acting within the scope of his employment, shall . . . be deemed to be the act, omission,
or failure of such carrier or user as well as that of the person.”).
21 See Eure Family Limited Partnership, Memorandum Opinion and Order, 17 FCC Rcd 21861, 21863–21864, para.
7 (2002) (citing American Paging, Inc. of Virginia, Memorandum Opinion and Order, 12 FCC Rcd 10417, 10420,
para. 11 (Wireless Bur., Enf. and Cons. Inf. Div., 1997).
22 Two of the other complainants identified in the Appendix specifically allege that the carrier change was not
authorized and that they were unaware of the slam until they saw their telephone bills. See Complaint from JC
Smith, LLC; Complaint from Avignone, Banick & Williams.
23 As noted above, the acts, omissions, or failures of United’s third party verifier, acting within the scope of its
employment, are “deemed to be the act[s], omission[s], or failure[s] of [United] . . . as well as that of the [verifier].”
47 U.S.C. § 217; see supra para. 8.
24 Complaint from All Sports Officials, LLC.
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United or its telemarketer fabricated the TPV recording to make it appear that a “manager”
“authorize[ed]” the carrier change; instead, the conversation United’s telemarketer had was with the
manager’s husband (on the premises, doing some maintenance work), who did not authorize a carrier
change but instead specifically told the telemarketer that he “had no authority over anything” and the
telemarketer needed to speak with the manager or someone in the main office to approve a change in the
long distance service.25
11.
United provided no evidence to disprove these complainants’ assertions that the TPV
recordings in question were fabricated. It denied receiving complaints of fabricated verification
recordings,26 but in fact the company received copies of all complaints filed with the Commission, state
commissions, and the Better Business Bureau, and provided the Bureau with many of those complaints.
United even addressed this issue in a letter in response to one of the complaints.27 Thus, based on the
above, we conclude that United apparently violated Section 201(b) of the Act by fabricating the TPVs for
two of the complainants to make it appear that the consumers authorized the carrier change when they did
not.

B.

Apparent Violations of Section 258 of the Act and Section 64.1120 of the
Commission’s Rules

12.
In addition to the Section 201(b) violations, we find that United apparently violated
Section 258 of the Act. Section 258 of the Act makes it unlawful for any telecommunications carrier to
“submit or execute a change in a subscriber’s selection of a provider of telephone exchange service or
telephone toll service except in accordance with such verification procedures as the Commission shall
prescribe.”28 Pursuant to Section 258, the Commission has adopted implementing rules. Section
64.1120(c) provides that a carrier must verify a change in one of three ways: (1) obtain the subscriber’s
written or electronically signed authorization in a format that meets the requirements of Section
64.1130;29 (2) obtain confirmation from the subscriber via a toll-free number provided exclusively for the
purpose of confirming orders electronically;30 or (3) utilize an independent third party to verify the
subscriber's order in accordance with certain requirements.31

25 Complaint from Opportunity Knocks. Several other complaints that arose out of incidents that occurred more
than one year prior to the release date of this NAL contain similar allegations of fabricated TPVs. See Complaints
of Alpha Park; Berosik Trucking; Electronics Service Co. of Hamlet, LLC; Helton Insurance Agency; Kooler Ice;
Patriot Restoration; Peak Sign Solutions; Title Solution Services, Inc.
26 Response to LOI at 5.
27 Letter from Vickie Anderson, Regulatory Liaison Coordinator, United Telecom, Inc. to Philip W. Cooke, Chief,
Compliance and Public Information Bureau, Montana Public Service Commission (July 12, 2011) included in the
Peak Sign Solutions Complaint.
28 47 U.S.C. § 258(a). The Commission has found that a submitting carrier violates Section 258 of the Act when it
effectuates a change in a consumer’s preferred carrier through engaging in deceptive practices, such as
misrepresentations about its identity, designed to prevent the consumer from understanding that the submitting
carrier is, in fact, seeking to change the consumer’s preferred carrier. See BDP Forfeiture Order, 15 FCC Rcd at
14467, para. 12 (the Commission found that “BDP knew, or should have known, that consumers acting reasonably
under these circumstances would be misled or confused by BDP’s telemarketing calls and that therefore, consumers
were not authorizing a PIC change.”).
29 47 C.F.R. § 64.1120(c)(1).
30 47 C.F.R. § 64.1120(c)(2).
31 47 C.F.R. § 64.1120(c)(3). For these requirements, see infra para. 14.
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13.
With respect to five consumers upon whose complaints this NAL is based, United has not
provided any of the three kinds of required verification.32 In the absence of one of the required forms of
verification, we also find that United apparently violated Section 258 of the Act and Section 64.1120(c) of
the Commission’s rules by changing the preferred providers of these complainants without their
authorization.33
14.
Section 64.1120(c)(3) sets forth detailed procedures that carriers electing to use TPV
procedures must follow. Among other specific requirements, the carrier’s verifier must confirm that “the
person on the call is authorized to make the carrier change,” and must ensure that “any description of
interLATA service . . . convey[s] that it encompasses both international and state-to-state calls, as well as
some intrastate calls where applicable.”34 The requirements were adopted to ensure that consumers
understand precisely the service changes they are approving and to increase consumer confidence,
decrease the administrative costs for carriers, and alleviate the enforcement burden on the Commission.35
15.
We have reviewed the TPV recordings for five carrier changes that United provided, and
find that they do not satisfy the requirements of the rule. In all of these TPV recordings, the United
verifiers only confirmed that the complainants wanted to switch state-to-state interLATA service, and
failed to obtain separate authorization from complainants to switch their intrastate interLATA service.36
In addition, in several instances, the verifier only asked the subscriber if he or she was “authorized by the
telephone account owner to make changes to and incur charges on this telephone account,” but failed to
inquire whether he or she was authorized to make a carrier change.37 The requirements that the verifier
confirm that the person on the call is authorized to make a carrier change and clearly describe the services
being changed are crucial to ensure that there is no confusion or ambiguity about the proposed switch.38
We find that, especially where consumers contend that they did not intend to change carriers at all, and

32 See Complaints from Howard County Physical Therapy, Rachel the Desk Set, Seahorse Scuba, E. Toro, and
Avignone, Banick & Williams.
33 See 47 C.F.R. § 64.1150(d) (“Failure by the carrier to respond or provide proof of verification will be presumed to
be clear and convincing evidence of a violation.”).
34 47 C.F.R. § 64.1120(c)(3)(iii). A local access and transport area, or LATA, can cross over state boundaries.
Some states have more than one LATA. LATAs can exist in multiple area codes and an area code can be in more
than one LATA. An intrastate call can be an interLATA toll call.
35 See Implementation of the Subscriber Carrier Selection Changes Provisions of the Telecommunications Act of
1996; Policies and Rules Concerning Unauthorized Changes of Consumers’ Long Distance Carriers
, CC Docket
No. 94-129, Fourth Report and Order, 23 FCC Rcd 493, 493, para. 1 (2008) (Fourth Report and Order). See also
Consumer Telcom, Inc., Complaints Regarding Unauthorized Change of Subscriber’s Telecommunications Carrier
,
Order on Reconsideration, 27 FCC Rcd 5340, 5341-42, para. 5 (CGB 2012) (reiterating that any description of the
carrier change transaction must not be misleading).
36 See, e.g., New Century Telecom, Inc., Complaints regarding Unauthorized Change of Subscriber’s
Telecommunications Carrier
, Order, 25 FCC Rcd 5911, 5913, para. 4 (CGB 2010) (CGB found that the TPVs did
not include intrastate interLATA service and concluded that the verifier did not obtain authorization to switch
interLATA service.).
37 See, e.g., United Telecom, Inc., Complaints Regarding Unauthorized Change of Subscriber’s Telecommunications
Carrier
, Order, 27 FCC Rcd 5753 (CGB 2012) (granting six complaints against United, including the complaint
filed by Graffiti’s Pizza, due to the verifier’s failure to ask about a carrier change); United Telecom, Inc., Complaints
Regarding Unauthorized Change of Subscriber’s Telecommunications Carrier
, Order, 27 FCC Rcd 8994 (CGB
2012) (same issue, regarding Opportunity Knocks and All Sports Officials complaints). Other complaints provided
by United had this error as well. See, e.g., Complaint from JC Smith, LLC.
38 See Fourth Report and Order, 23 FCC Rcd at 501, paras. 18 and 19.
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that United in fact misled them, enforcement of these rules is critical to consumer protection.39 We
therefore conclude that United apparently violated Section 258(a) of the Act and Section 64.1120(c)(3) of
the Commission’s rules by failing to follow all of the Commission’s third party verification requirements
with respect to all ten complainants.40

IV.

PROPOSED FORFEITURE

16.
Section 503(b)(1) of the Act states that any person who willfully or repeatedly fails to
comply with any provision of the Act or any rule, regulation, or order issued by the Commission, shall be
liable to the United States for a forfeiture penalty.41 Section 503(b)(2)(B) of the Act empowers the
Commission to assess a forfeiture of up to $150,000 for each willful or repeated violation of the Act or of
any rule, regulation, or order issued by the Commission under the Act.42 For a violation to be willful, it
need not be intentional.43 In exercising our forfeiture authority, we are required to take into account “the
nature, circumstances, extent, and gravity of the violation and, with respect to the violator, the degree of
culpability, any history of prior offenses, ability to pay, and such other matters as justice may require.”44
In addition, the Commission has established forfeiture guidelines, which set forth base penalties for
certain violations, and identify criteria that we consider in exercising our discretion to adjust the base
upward or downward.45 Pursuant to the guidelines, we may adjust a forfeiture upward for violations that
are egregious, intentional, or repeated, or that cause substantial harm or generate substantial economic
gain for the violator.46
17.
The Commission’s forfeiture guidelines currently establish a base forfeiture amount of
$40,000 for violations of our slamming rules and orders.47 In prior enforcement actions, the Commission
has warned carriers that misrepresentations such as the ones in the instant case are serious and that future
violations may receive significant upward adjustments. For example, most recently, in the Silv NAL, the
Commission stated that “[c]arriers should be on notice that the Commission considers violations such as
the ones discussed herein to be serious and that future violations may receive significant upward

39 See Silv NAL, 25 FCC Rcd at 5184, para. 12.
40 See, e.g., New Century Telecom, Inc., Complaints regarding Unauthorized Change of Subscriber’s
Telecommunications Carrier
, Order, 25 FCC Rcd 5911, 5913, para. 4 (CGB 2010) (finding that TPV recordings did
not include references to intrastate interLATA service and concluding that verifier did not obtain authorization to
switch interLATA service); United Telecom, Inc., Complaint Regarding Unauthorized Change of Subscriber’s
Telecommunications Carrier
, Order, 27 FCC Rcd 5758 (CGB 2012).
41https://web2.westlaw.com/find/default.wl?tf=-1&rs=WLW10.08&fn=_top&sv=Split&docname=47USCAS503&tc=-1&pbc=982A51E4&ordoc=2001262319&findtype=L&db=1000546&vr=2.0&rp=%2ffind%2fdefault.wl&mt=Westlaw"> 47 U.S.C. § 503(b)(1)(B); see alsohttps://web2.westlaw.com/find/default.wl?tf=-1&rs=WLW10.08&fn=_top&sv=Split&docname=47CFRS1.80&tc=-1&pbc=982A51E4&ordoc=2001262319&findtype=L&db=1000547&vr=2.0&rp=%2ffind%2fdefault.wl&mt=Westlaw"> 47 C.F.R. § 1.80(a)(2).
42https://web2.westlaw.com/find/default.wl?tf=-1&rs=WLW10.08&fn=_top&sv=Split&docname=47USCAS503&tc=-1&pbc=982A51E4&ordoc=2001262319&findtype=L&db=1000546&vr=2.0&rp=%2ffind%2fdefault.wl&mt=Westlaw"> 47 U.S.C. § 503(b)(2)(B); see alsohttps://web2.westlaw.com/find/default.wl?tf=-1&rs=WLW10.08&fn=_top&sv=Split&docname=47CFRS1.80&tc=-1&pbc=982A51E4&ordoc=2001262319&findtype=L&db=1000547&vr=2.0&rp=%2ffind%2fdefault.wl&mt=Westlaw"> 47 C.F.R. § 1.80(b)(2). Amendment of Section 1.80 of the Commission’s
Rules, Adjustment of Forfeiture Maxima to Reflect Inflation
, Order, 23 FCC Rcd 9845, 9847 (2008) (adjusting the
maximum statutory amounts for common carriers from $130,000/$1,300,000 to $150,000/$1,500,000).
43 Southern California Broadcasting Co., Memorandum Opinion and Order, 6 FCC Rcd 4387, 4388, para. 5 (1991).
44 See 47 U.S.C. § 503(b)(2)(E); see also The Commission’s Forfeiture Policy Statement and Amendment of Section
1.80 of the Commission’s Rules
, Report and Order, 12 FCC Rcd 17087, 17100–01, para. 27 (1997) (Forfeiture
Policy Statement
).

45 47 C.F.R. § 1.80(b)(8).
46 Id.
47 Id.
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adjustments.”48 The misrepresentations and fabricated TPVs discussed above—which all took place after
the Silv NAL was released—are particularly egregious.49
18.
Applying the $40,000 base forfeiture to each of the ten apparent slamming violations
upon which this NAL is based would result in a forfeiture of $400,000. In this case, however, United’s
conduct was particularly egregious, as demonstrated by our conclusion that the company also violated
Section 201(b) of the Act in six of the ten cases at issue by misleading consumers into believing that
United was calling on behalf of their current carrier or was taking over the long distance service provided
by their current carrier. We also find United’s conduct egregious with respect to fabricating two TPV
recordings in an apparent attempt to conceal its unlawful practices. We further note that United appears
to have engaged in this kind of deception repeatedly.50 The Commission may consider prior offenses to
establish the context for determining an appropriate forfeiture amount.51 We therefore find that a
significant upward adjustment is appropriate here.52 In light of United’s repeated egregious conduct, and
given that we specifically addressed in the Silv NAL two years ago the very kind of misrepresentation at
issue here, we propose to triple the base forfeiture of $40,000 for each of the eight egregious violations at
issue in this NAL—the slams involving misrepresentation and fabricated TPVs—making the penalty for
each such violation $120,000. We recognize that this adjustment is greater than that the Commission has
imposed in other cases involving similar conduct, but we find that an overall penalty of this magnitude is
appropriate given our prior warnings, most recently, to individuals linked to United, and the apparently

48 Silv NAL, 25 FCC Rcd at 5186, para. 16.
49 The apparent misrepresentations discussed in the Silv NAL are similar to those discussed here, which is
particularly relevant given the relationship between the two companies. United asserts that it has no affiliations with
other telecommunications companies, see Response to LOI at 1; however, the owner of Silv Communication is the
husband of the president of United, see Response to LOI at 5. In addition, the same group of individuals—SK
Golam Ahia, Sapina Quayum, Aminur Rahman, Faisal Aziz, Imtiaz Hossain, Kazi Hossain, Mohideen Sinnalebbe,
Elizabeth Sinnalebbe, Maria Zepeda, and others—apparently are involved in United as well as America Net, LLC
and Silv Communication, and the third party verification company, Seone Network, Inc., used by all three
companies. (Mr. Aziz may have used the name “Mal Azaz” in providing Seone Network, Inc. TPVs.) This
relationship among the companies and individuals—which raises the issue of the independence of the TPV
company, among other things—was discussed in the America Net, LLC proceeding before the Public Utilities
Commission of California, In the Matter of the Application of America Net, LLC for Certificate of Public
Convenience and Necessity to Provide Resold Interexchange Telecommunications Services within the State of
California
, Application 11-04-005. America Net contended to the California Public Utilities Commission, as United
contends to us, that it “is not affiliated with any other company.”
50 The ten complainants identified in the Appendix are those who identified slamming incidents within the twelve
months preceding the NAL. Section 503(b)(6) of the Act, 47 U.S.C. § 503(b)(6), empowers the Commission only to
assess a penalty for violations that occurred in the year preceding the issuance of an NAL. In fashioning the penalty
to apply for such violations, however, the Commission may take into account conduct that occurred at earlier times.
Thus, in determining the forfeiture to assess for United’s apparent violations with respect to these 10 consumers, we
consider its apparent deceptive conduct with respect to other consumers as well. See supra notes 17, 19, 25.
51 See Sandhill Communications, Notice of Apparent Liability, 25 FCC Rcd 17762, 17769, n.45 (Enf. Bur. 2010)
(noting that Section 503(b)(6) does not bar the Commission from assessing whether a company’s conduct prior to
the statute of limitations period violated the Act and Commission rules and from considering such conduct in
determining the appropriate forfeiture amount for violations that occurred within the one-year statutory period); see
also InPhonic, Inc
., Order of Forfeiture and Further Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture, 22 FCC Rcd 8689,
8701, para. 28 (2007) citing Roadrunner Transp., Inc., Forfeiture Order, 15 FCC Rcd 9669, 9671, para. 8 (2000);
Cate Communications Corp., Memorandum Opinion and Order, 60 Rad. Reg. 2d 1386, 1388, para. 7 (1986);
Eastern Broadcasting Corp., Memorandum Opinion and Order, 11 FCC 2d 193, 195, para. 6 (1967).
52 47 C.F.R. § 1.80(b)(4), Note to paragraph (b)(4): Section II. Adjustment Criteria for Section 503 Forfeitures;
Forfeiture Policy Statement, 12 FCC Rcd at 17116, Appendix A, Section II.
8



Federal Communications Commission

FCC 12-160



egregious and repeated violations at issue here. Thus, the total forfeiture we propose for United’s conduct
is $1,040,000.53

V.

CONCLUSION

19.
Based on the facts and record before us, we have determined that United Telecom, Inc.
has apparently willfully and repeatedly violated Sections 201(b) and 258 of the Communications Act of
1934, as amended, and Section 64.1120 of the Commission’s rules.

VI.

ORDERING CLAUSES

20.
Accordingly,

IT IS ORDERED

, pursuant to Section 503(b) of the Communications Act
of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. § 503(b), and Section 1.80 of the Commission’s rules, 47 C.F.R. § 1.80,
that United Telecom, Inc. is hereby NOTIFIED of this

APPARENT LIABILITY FOR FORFEITURE

in the amount of one million, forty thousand dollars ($1,040,000), for willful and repeated violations of
Sections 201(b) and 258 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. §§ 201(b), 258, and
Section 64.1120 of the Commission’s rules, 47 C.F.R. § 64.1120.
21.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED THAT

, pursuant to Section 1.80 of the Commission’s
rules,54 within thirty (30) calendar days of the release date of this Notice of Apparent Liability for
Forfeiture, United Telecom, Inc.

SHALL PAY

the full amount of the proposed forfeiture or

SHALL
FILE

a written statement seeking reduction or cancellation of the proposed forfeiture.
22.
Payment of the forfeiture must be made by check or similar instrument, wire transfer, or
credit card, and must include the NAL/Account number and FRN referenced above. United Telecom,
Inc. shall send electronic notification of payment to Johnny Drake at johnny.drake@fcc.gov on the date
said payment is made. Regardless of the form of payment, a completed FCC Form 159 (Remittance
Advice) must be submitted.55 When completing the FCC Form 159, enter the Account Number in block
number 23A (call sign/other ID) and enter the letters “FORF” in block number 24A (payment type
code). Below are additional instructions you should follow based on the form of payment you select:

Payment by check or money order must be made payable to the order of the Federal
Communications Commission. Such payments (along with the completed Form 159) must be
mailed to Federal Communications Commission, P.O. Box 979088, St. Louis, MO 63197-
9000, or sent via overnight mail to U.S. Bank – Government Lockbox #979088, SL-MO-C2-
GL, 1005 Convention Plaza, St. Louis, MO 63101.

Payment by wire transfer must be made to ABA Number 021030004, receiving bank
TREAS/NYC, and Account Number 27000001. To complete the wire transfer and ensure
appropriate crediting of the wired funds, a completed Form 159 must be faxed to U.S. Bank
at (314) 418-4232 on the same business day the wire transfer is initiated.

Payment by credit card must be made by providing the required credit card information on
FCC Form 159 and signing and dating the Form 159 to authorize the credit card payment.
The completed Form 159 must then be mailed to Federal Communications Commission, P.O.

53 In the BDP Forfeiture Order, the telemarketer represented that it was affiliated with the customers’ existing
carriers. BDP Forfeiture Order, 15 FCC Rcd at 14468, para. 15. The Commission found that the telemarketer
repeatedly deceived consumers as to BDP’s identity and the nature of its service, and imposed a $40,000 forfeiture
for each instance of slamming and an additional $40,000 forfeiture for each instance in which BDP engaged in an
unjust and unreasonable telemarketing practice.
54 47 C.F.R. § 1.80.
55 An FCC Form 159 and detailed instructions for completing the form may be obtained at
http://www.fcc.gov/Forms/Form159/159.pdf.
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Box 979088, St. Louis, MO 63197-9000, or sent via overnight mail to U.S. Bank –
Government Lockbox #979088, SL-MO-C2-GL, 1005 Convention Plaza, St. Louis, MO
63101.
Any request for full payment under an installment plan should be sent to: Chief Financial Officer—
Financial Operations, Federal Communications Commission, 445 12th Street, SW, Room 1-A625,
Washington, DC 20554.56 If you have questions regarding payment procedures, please contact the
Financial Operations Group Help Desk by telephone, 1-877-480-3201, or by e-mail,
ARINQUIRIES@fcc.gov.
23.
The response, if any, must be mailed both to the Office of the Secretary, Federal
Communications Commission, 445 12th Street, SW, Washington, DC 20554, ATTN: Enforcement
Bureau—Telecommunications Consumers Division, and to Richard A. Hindman, Chief,
Telecommunications Consumers Division, Enforcement Bureau, Federal Communications Commission,
445 12th Street, SW, Washington, DC 20554, and must include the NAL/Acct. No. referenced in the
caption.
24.
The Commission will not consider reducing or canceling a forfeiture in response to a
claim of inability to pay unless the petitioner submits: (1) federal tax returns for the most recent three-
year period; (2) financial statements prepared according to generally accepted accounting practices; or (3)
some other reliable and objective documentation that accurately reflects the petitioner’s current financial
status. Any claim of inability to pay must specifically identify the basis for the claim by reference to the
financial documentation submitted.
25.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED

that a copy of this Notice of Apparent Liability for
Forfeiture shall be sent by Certified Mail Return Receipt Requested and First Class Mail to the Company
at 3550 Wilshire Blvd., 17th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90010.







FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION







Marlene H. Dortch

Secretary

56 See 47 C.F.R. § 1.1914.
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APPENDIX

Complainant

Date of slam

Violation(s)

R. Metzger on behalf of Rachel The
1/5/12
Section 258; Section 201(b)
Desk Set, Inc.
E. Dykens on behalf of Graffiti’s
1/10/12
Section 258; Section 201(b)
Pizza and Italian Café
12-S3365922
K. Smith on behalf of JC Smith,
1/10/12
Section 258
LLC
Omni Swivel International
1/27/12
Section 258; Section 201(b)
M. Wilson on behalf of Howard
2/1/12
Section 258; Section 201(b)
County Physical Therapy
M. Whitt on behalf of Opportunity
2/2/12
Section 258; Section 201(b)
Knocks
12-S003419
J. Hummel on behalf of Seahorse
3/27/12
Section 258; Section 201(b)
Scuba
D. Helmsetter on behalf of All
5/18/12
Section 258; Section 201(b)
Sports Officials, LLC
12-S003424
E. Toro
6/6/12
Section 258; Section 201(b)
12-S3470351
C. Williams on behalf of Avignone,
7/25/12
Section 258
Banick, and Williams
12-C00426519



Document Outline

  • Washington, DC 20554
  • I. introduction
  • II. BACKGROUND
  • III. discussion
    • A. Apparent Violations of Section 201(b)
    • 1. Apparent Misrepresentations by Uniteds Telemarketer
  • IV. proposed ForfEIture
  • V. CONCLUSION
  • VI. ORDERING CLAUSES
    • APPENDIX

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