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New Jersey brothers who made 60 million robocalls to sell cesspool cleaners must pay $1.66 million penalty

  • Three New Jersey brothers settled for $1.66 million after making 59.6 million robocalls.
  • “Hello, this is not a sales call or a solicitation,” the robocalls began.
  • About 63% of the numbers called were on the National Do-Not-Call Registry. 

Three New Jersey brothers will pay $1.66 million to settle a federal lawsuit that said they made 59.6 million robocalls.

Environmental Safety International, run by Sean and Joseph Carney, and telemarketing company Carbo, run by Raymond Carney, were using the calls to sell cesspool and septic-tank cleaning products, the Justice Department said on Friday.

The DOJ said the three Carney brothers agreed to a civil penalty of $10.2 million, most of which was suspended. They’ll instead pay $1.66 million, along with forfeiting $774,000 in property. They also agreed not to collect $164,402 in unpaid customer balances. 

Working cooperatively, the two companies made millions of unlawful telemarketing calls between January 2018 and December 2020, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

The government said in its complaint that the calls were made in two groups. The first was 45 million calls, followed nine months later by another 14.6 million calls. 

More than 37.7 million calls, or about 63%, were made to numbers listed on the National Do-Not-Call Registry, according to a complaint filed in federal court earlier this month. 

“Hello, this is not a sales call or a solicitation,” the robocalls began, according to a transcript in the complaint. “We’re calling from an environmental company with information for all septic tank and cesspool owners.”

They added: “We would like to give you some free info on our environmentally safe, all-natural septic-tank cleaning product.”

President George W. Bush laughing before signing a bill at the White House in 2003

Former President George W. Bush signing the National Do-Not-Call Registry bill at the White House in 2003.

Jason Reed/Reuters


If customers pressed “1” during the , they were put into a pipeline that led them eventually to a live telemarketer offering Environmental Safety International’s products, the government’s lawsuit said.

The cleaning products were called the “Activator 1000” and “Activator 2000.”

The DOJ complaint said the calls violated the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule, which requires telemarketers to disclose the seller’s identity. It also requires callers to skip numbers on the Do-Not-Call Registry.

“The Department of Justice is working together with the FTC to prevent the scourge of robocalls that harass and invade the privacy of millions of people every day,” said Brian M. Boynton, acting assistant attorney general at the Justice Department.

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