Telemarketing company pleads guilty to criminal charges
May 24, 2017 – OTTAWA, ON – Competition Bureau
A Montreal-based company, Thompson Hill Publishing, pleaded guilty yesterday and will pay fines totalling $180,000 for making false or misleading representations and engaging in deceptive telemarketing.
The Court of Quebec also prohibited the company and two of its managers, Marc Lefebvre and Karl Garon, from engaging in or associating with any telemarketing activities for five years. The Crown stayed charges against Lefebvre, Garon and Peter DeZottis, and the remaining companies, Opus Média inc., Les Services d’appels Évolution inc., Dixon Média inc., and Intégration Média inc.
The Competition Bureau investigation uncovered that the company operated a telemarketing scheme that sold online and hard-copy directory listings to thousands of businesses located in the United States using false or misleading sales techniques.
The company employed telemarketers from call centres based in India and Egypt. The Bureau’s investigation concluded that victims were misled into believing that the purpose of the call was to renew an existing listing in a business directory, when, in fact, the true purpose of the call was to sell a new listing.
In this case, the Crown decided it was in the public interest to resolve this matter by way of a corporate guilty plea as it exceeded timelines set out in the recent Jordan decision by the Supreme Court.
In 2011, the Bureau laid criminal charges under the Competition Act against five companies and five individuals for making false or misleading representations regarding prior business relationships with alleged victims, failing to disclose the purpose of telemarketing calls and making a representation that is false or misleading during a telemarketing communication.
In 2013, Claude Berthiaume, pleaded guilty to making false and misleading representations in relation to a deceptive telemarketing operation. He was sentenced to six months of house arrest, followed by six months of curfew and was prohibited from engaging in telemarketing for 10 years.
In 2013, Kevin Secours was prohibited from engaging in telemarketing for 10 years.
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