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Verizon wins voice spam lawsuit

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US mobile operator Verizon Wireless has won a lawsuit against a telemarketeer that pestered its customers with Spanish language messages.

All Star Vacations and Marketing Group, Inc. of Miami, Florida has agreed to a permanent injunction preventing it from making further calls. It also agreed to pay a $5,000 fine, which Verizon has sportingly decided to donate to support the phone recycling program of Casa de Esperanza, an organization that works with Latino communities to end domestic violence.

Verizon filed a suit in February against All Star, as well as another Florida travel company, after complaints about an estimated 500,000 calls to Verizon customers. Punters were left Spanish language messages "congratulating" them on winning trips to various resort locations which could be redeemed if users phoned a toll-free number to claim their "prize". All Star hired Southeastern Bell Corporation to make these pre-recorded calls using auto-dialling equipment.

Verizon amended its lawsuit to also ask for a permanent injunction and damages against Southeastern and its officers. The mobile operator sued defendants to the suit over alleged violations of the Federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act. Verizon reckons its suit is the first of its kind involving Spanish-language messages.

"Our commitment to protecting our customers against invasions of their privacy has not wavered," said Steven Zipperstein, general counsel and vice president of legal and external affairs at Verizon Wireless. "This settlement is another victory for our customers and we will continue to take all necessary steps to vigorously defend our customers' privacy and protect them from these unwanted calls." ®

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