NJ Division of Consumer Affairs Settles Fraud Lawsuit

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NEWARK – The NJ Division of Consumer Affairs and Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal recently announced that a lawsuit against two Monmouth County residents and their companies, for defrauding senior citizens, was settled for $296,000.

The State filed a civil complaint back in 2016 against the two Monmouth County residents, Ezra Rishty of Oakhurst and Larry J. Ansell of Tinton Falls, along with their businesses Life Aid Connect, Inc., Safety Alert USA Limited Liability Company aka Med Aid Alert, and Mobile Alert, Inc. for targeting senior citizens to pressure them into purchasing emergency alert systems, according to the lawsuit.

Rishty and Ansell used aggressive, misleading, and deceptive sales tactics to dupe senior citizens into purchasing their equipment that sometimes were never delivered, did not work properly or, could not be activated where the consumers lived.

“Using deceitful telemarketing practices to exploit vulnerable seniors isn’t just cruel, it’s also illegal,” said Attorney General Grewal. “This settlement sends a clear message that we will vigorously enforce our consumer protection laws and prosecute those who break them, especially those who prey on the elderly.”

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The settlement requires that the companies be dissolved and permanently bans the owners from selling such systems in New Jersey. The defendants agreed to these terms under a final consent judgement.

In addition to these, Rishty is also barred from owning or operating any business in the state that uses telemarketing to advertise or sell merchandise. Rishty and Ansell must also destroy all personal and health information obtained from consumers in connection with the businesses.

“Protecting consumers from being defrauded by New Jersey telemarketers is a responsibility we take seriously,” said Kevin R. Jespersen, Acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. “Con artists and scammers will not be allowed to browbeat our consumers into buying goods or services that they don’t want or need or don’t work as promised.”

The two defendants stated that the emergency systems they were selling were meant to call for help via home-based or GPS satellite systems. The systems ranged from $159 to $299, and cost between $34.95 and $39.95 a month in monitoring fees.

According to the State’s Complaint, Rishty and Ansell violated the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act (“CFA”), the Advertising Regulations, and the Telemarketing Do Not Call Law and related regulations.

The defendants agreed to a settlement amount of $295,545, which includes $206,000 in civil penalties, $8,669 in consumer restitution, $57,980 in reimbursement of the Division’s attorney’s fees, and $22,783 in reimbursement of the Division’s investigative costs.

Chief Investigator Laurie Goodman of the Division’s Office of Consumer Protection conducted the investigation. Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Koziar of the Consumer Fraud Prosecution Section within the Division of Law represented the State in this action.

Consumers who believe they have been cheated or scammed by a business, or suspect any other form of consumer abuse can file an online complaint with the State Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting its website or by calling 1-800-242-5846 or 973-504-6200.