SEO Company 29 Prime Faces TCPA (Robocall) Class Action

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Actual complaint filed about 29 Prime a/k/a “Reliable Places”

Updates

July, 2016 – 29 Prime has filed for bankruptcy. This is not a surprise, since Russell Wallace filed for personal bankruptcy in 2009.

March 13, 2016 – Check out this blog about 29 Prime and Russell Wallace: 29 Prime Scam Warning – Exposing the truth behind 29prime.com -another Russell Wallace scam and the highly negative Yelp reviews about 29 Prime here: http://www.yelp.com/biz/29-prime-irvine

November 4, 2015 – If you receive unwanted robocalls to your cellphone, or prerecorded calls to your landline from 29 Prime (or whatever this company is calling itself now), contact the Federal Trade Commission here: www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov.

July 28, 2015 – This morning I received a robocall on my personal cell phone from someone regarding a free Google listing (caller id: 617-207-0003). The obnoxious fellow I spoke with said he was in Orange County California (caller id obviously spoofed).  He claimed he was with “Lighthouse Marketing” and directed me to a website. I later learned that the owner of this business has been receiving complaints for over a year because someone has been giving out her company’s name when placing robocalls about free Google listings. Lighthouse Marketing is a reputable small business that does not place outbound sales calls about SEO optimization or Google rankings. Did 29 Prime robocall my cell phone?

July 27, 2015 – Please note: Our class action lawsuit against 29 Prime only addresses allegations of robocalls. If you have other complaints about 29 Prime (i.e. page ranking promises, quality of SEO services, billing problems, etc.) the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) may be able to assist you.  The link to register a complaint with the FTC is: www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov.

April 23, 2015 – Second Amended Class Action Complaint (pdf) filed in California against 29 Prime, Inc., OC Listing Inc., Local Zoom, Tony Redman, Russell Wallace.

September 4, 2014 – First Amended Class Action Complaint (pdf) filed, adding as defendants OC Listing, Inc., Local Zoom, Russell Wallace, and Tony Redman. Summons Issued as to Local Zoom, OC Listing, Inc., Tony Redman, Russell Wallace.

July 29, 2014 – The following transaction was entered into Pacer on 7/29/2014 at 2:47 PM EDT and filed on 7/29/2014 Case Name: Russell v. 29 Prime, Inc.  Case Number: 1:13-cv-12814-NMG Docket Text:  ELECTRONIC Clerk’s Notes for proceedings held before Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton: Scheduling Conference held on 7/29/2014: Automatic Discovery to be completed by 8/12/14; Amendments and/or Supplements to the Pleadings due by 8/25/2014; written discovery served by 11/30/14, answered by 12/31/14; all fact Discovery to be completed by 3/6/2015; Motion for Class Certification due by 4/15/2015, opposition due by 5/15/2015, reply due by 5/31/2015. Motion Hearing set for 6/25/2015 03:00 PM in Courtroom 4 before Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton. (Court Reporter: No Court Reporter Used.)(Attorneys present: Pastor, Smith, Baruch (by phone), Salinger) (Patch, Christine)

July 25, 2014 – 29 Prime filed its Answer to the Class Action Complaint (Russell v. 29 Prime, Inc. Case Number: 1:13-cv-12814-NMG) (pdf)

July 15, 2014 –  Judge Gorton’s Denial of Motion to Dismiss Opinion featured on Leagle:

“…I) PURPOSEFUL AVAILMENT

29 PRIME’s phone calls to Massachusetts residents, through its resellers, also constitute sufficient contacts to satisfy the purposeful availment inquiry. See, e.g., Hudak v. Berkley Grp., Inc., No. 3:13-cv-00089-WWE, 2014 WL 354676, at *3 (D. Conn. Jan. 23, 2014). 29 PRIME must contact prospective customers in order to secure sales but not all solicitations will result in business relationships. Because the forum selection, choice of law, and arbitration clauses only apply to customers who execute the Terms & Conditions sheet, it was reasonably foreseeable that these clauses would not govern all of 29 PRIME’s contacts with Massachusetts…”

…II) PUBLIC INTERESTS
The public interest factors do not compel jurisdiction in California. Massachusetts has a local interest in providing a convenient forum for its residents against foreign corporations. Rodriguez v. Samsung Elec. Co., Ltd., 734 F.Supp.2d 220, 228 (D. Mass. 2010). California, however, also has an interest in remedying injuries caused by one of its resident corporations. See id. Given both interests, the public interest inquiry is a wash. Id. Because this Court defers to plaintiff’s choice of forum and the private factors weigh in favor of jurisdiction, defendant’s motion to dismiss for improper venue will be denied.”

July 14, 2014 – Law 360 Article – Tech Co. Can’t Escape Massachusetts TCPA Class Action (pdf).

“A Massachusetts federal judge on Thursday refused to toss a proposed class action accusing search engine optimizer 29 Prime Inc. of making mass phone calls to consumers in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, rejecting its argument that the court lacked jurisdiction.

Plaintiff alleges that 29 Prime made mass solicitations to him and other putative class members using autodialers without their consent, but the company filed a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and for improper venue to transfer this case…”

July 10, 2014 – 29 Prime’s Motion to Dismiss Denied – Memorandum and Order (pdf).

July 8, 2014 – Freedom of Information Act documents from the FTC (pdf) and FCC (pdf) about 29 Prime and robocalls.

February 5, 2014 – three months after our case, a copycat federal TCPA class action was filed against 29 Prime by Washington and California lawyers. The copycat case is Marlowe v. 29 Prime (pdf ).

 New Court documents:

  • Plaintiff’s Memorandum of Law in Oppostion to Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss (pdf)
  • 29 Prime’s Motion to Dismiss (pdf)
  • Affidavit of Russell Wallace (pdf)

*     *     *

On November 6, 2013, Leonard Law Office LLP, Pastor Law Office LLP, Sweetnam LLC, and Milberg LLP filed a class action lawsuit against California search engine optimization company 29 Prime for alleged violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. The TCPA is a federal law that generally forbids telemarketing calls to cell phones.

29 Prime

29 Prime, Inc.

A Summons [PDF here] was filed on November 18, 2013. 29 The Class Action Complaint [PDF here] alleges:

“Plaintiff brings this action for damages, and other legal and equitable remedies, resulting from the actions of Defendant in negligently, knowingly, and/or willfully placing calls to Plaintiff’s cellular telephone using an automatic telephone dialing system (“ATDS”) (i.e., “robocalls”) without his prior express consent in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, 47 U.S.C. § 227 et seq. (“TCPA”).

Plaintiff is the primary user of the cellular telephone to which Defendant placed calls using an ATDS without his express consent and is a member of the class defined herein.

 Defendant, 29 Prime, is a corporation organized under the laws of Nevada with its principal place of business at 9701 Jeronimo Road., Irvine, California, 92618. The nature of 29 Prime’s business is to place calls to telephones throughout the United States to solicit unsuspecting customers for search engine optimization services, making claims about their ability to improve Google rankings. Defendant has in the past and continues to operate under unincorporated alter egos with similar websites, such as “Reliable Places.” The company was founded in 2010 by Russell Wallace and Tony Redman.  The Defendant placed robocalls to Plaintiff and other class members in violation of the TCPA, as alleged herein.”  More Excerpts from the class action complaint are pasted at below.

If you have information about 29 Prime’s business practices, or have been affected by telemarketing to your cell phone, you are welcome to contact us

Information about 29 Prime

29 Prime is a web site design and search engine optimization company. This is an industry whose validity and efficacy has been questioned.  29 Prime is apparently one of the most successful SEO companies. “In 2012, 29 Prime, Inc. placed 36 on Inc. Magazine‘s Inc. 5000 list, which ranks the fastest-growing companies in the country based on revenue growth. According to the list, the organization ranked sixth among the top 100 advertising and marketing companies in the United States, seventh among all companies in California, including fourth in Los Angeles and second in Orange County.”

Inc. Magazine’s online profile of the company describes 29 Prime as a company which “specializes in increasing small and midsize local businesses’ visibility on the Internet. The company guarantees front page placement on Google as well as placement on Yahoo and Bing, and also offers video SEO, coupons, and Facebook and Twitter strategies.”  The article reported 2011 income of 6.4MM.

In October, 2012, the Orange County Business Journal [PDF] ranked 29 Prime as number one on the list of fastest growing private companies, with 2012 revenues of 8.7 MM, located at  9701 Jeronimo Road, third floor, Irvine CA 92618-2020.

Is 29 Prime’s Autodialler Responsible for the Company’s Explosive Growth?

“the dialer calls out”

29 Prime CEO Russell Wallace claims: “Our goal is to help business owners that aren’t Web savvy to get online, build their reputation and grow their business.” According to his Linkedin profile, Russell Wallace, 31, is “Co-Founder and CEO of 29 Prime, Inc.,” with “more than 10 years’ experience directing as many as 300 employees in companies with revenues in excess of $30 million.” Russell Wallace and Tony Redman founded the company in 2010.

Complaints about 29Prime.com by consumers:

Visiting consumer complaint websites revealed numerous complaints about 29Prime.com.

Complaints about 29 Prime on Yelp:

  • “In spite of your protests, I requested, very politely, and three times, that “managers” with whom I spoke remove my number. The calls continued. TCPA is a strict liability statute, and it’s not my job to remove my personal phone number, which is also on the federal ‘do not call list,’ from your database. It’s YOUR job. So far, the 29prime liability to me personally is over $10,000 and rising every day. Believe me, I will collect. And you would be stunned by the number of people who have contacted me with similar problems, after I posted my first note. Look for my suit soon.”
  • “I’m a consumer protection attorney, and I do a lot of work with TCPA (federal protection against phone scams and harassment). These guys have called me at home nearly 20 times in the last month, peddling their wares. I’m now filing a complaint against them and their corporate masters. I would also be interested in hearing from any Yelp users who might wish to be included as plaintiffs in future litigation. TCPA provides for $500 per violation to the consumer who was the recipient of these calls – and the bad guy gets to pay the attorney fees….”
  • “This is one of THOSE SEO scam companies which loves to annoy business owners with robo-marketing calls promising top Google placement. They even go so far as to imply that they are affiliated with Google. You can try the automated opt-out (it will do no good), you can tell them to stop (it will do no good), you can file a complaint to the FTC through the do not call registry – even if your number is not on the registry (it will probably do no good).” (Source: http://www.yelp.com/biz/29-prime-irvine)

Complaints about 29 Prime on Pissed Consumer.com:

  • “This company promises to help you climb the internet search ranking in 2 weeks and with-in 30 days you are at the number 1 spot.They did not accomplish anything they promised. $600.00+ and I still have nothing to show. Whenever I call to speak with a VMC (consultant) I get voicemail and/or no call backs. When I visit the customer page to view any activity it shows no improvement in my keywords.” (Source: http://www.pissedconsumer.com/reviews-by-company/29prime/29prime-on-line-marketing-20130321394631.html)

Complaints about 29 Prime on Complaintsboard.com:

Complaints about 29 Prime on RipoffReport.com:

  • “”When I first did business with 29Prime, they accepted $398 dollars for down-payment, which was to be charged $125 dollars per month for their services. Then, after the second month went by, they withdrew $199 dollars from my bank account without authorization. For three weeks, I have been writing them letters and asking to speak with management or Russell Wallace, and not one person will put me in contact with them. I have still been asking for refund, and they haven’t refunded my money. They keep making circles around the subject, and they never refund it. To whoever may concern, this company does not make business appropiately. I’m still requesting the refund, and I do not recommend doing business with 29Prime.” (Source: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/29Prime/Newport-Beach-California-92663/29Prime-Reliable-Listing-Russell-Wallace-Forrest-Blackburn-YLM-iLocal-Your-Local-Mer-700279)

Complaints about 29 Prime on Complaint Wire

  • “Russell Wallace has now opened the doors for the 4th time in 3 1/2 years to his new company name…29 prime! Russell has a track record of being a fly by night and operating scam telemarketing operations for local SEO.”
  • “29 Prime has a series of duplicate websites that they sell to companies to “improve Google local listings” that are all hosted on the same server.”
  • “I used to work for Reliable Places/29 prime. I was employees there for over six months… I will honestly say that this company is defiantly shady…I could go on about the dishonesty personally witnessed in 6 months. I was forced to participate in lying to customers and possible clients just to keep my job.” (Source: http://complaintwire.org/complaint/eqQBAAAAAAA/29prime-com-or-29-prime-scam-fraudulent)

Note: Ripoffreports’ results about 29 Prime appear to have been manipulated with multiple duplicate entries. The company also apparently engaged in some sort of dispute mediation, since the first entry on Ripoffreport includes positive information first.

Blogs about 29 Prime:

29 Prime Scam Warning – Exposing the truth behind 29prime.com -another Russell Wallace scam

  • “29Prime.com has had a huge amount of duplicate websites and article sites popping up. One reason for this type of practice would be to get away from the negative publicity and real customer reviews. Another reason is that it has long been the business model of Russell Wallace companies to not pay employees and keep everyone on commission only process and just give them 1099′s at the end of the year to escape paying for training, healthcare, taxes, etc so they now have these independent sales contractors running their own sites. This helps them build a larger network and escape a lot of the bad press they are receiving from the bad business practices.”(Source: http://beware29prime.wordpress.com/tag/scam/)

“I was called today by this company and the guy was rude telling me my business was horrible for the internet and i did not rank well… then for 45 minutes straight he was calling private number 45 minutes straight..”(Source: http://1chicagocarpetcleaner.blogspot.com/2012/09/paramount-sem-telemarketer-theaten-seo.html)

Complaints about the number (206) 3971615

Whocalled.us:

  • “Yet another search engine scam that charges businesses exorbitant fees to supposedly put your website at the top of an internet search.
  • “Please press 1 to update your free Google listing”
  • “Please press 1 to update your free Google listing”
  • “Company is Front Page Placement and their service is they will get your business on the front page of major search engines. I called and asked for their website is: frontpageplacement.net” (Source: http://whocalled.us/lookup/2063971615)

Lawsuits against 29 Prime and its CEO, Russell Wallace

Egumball v. Russell Wallace, Yourlocalmerchant.com, California, 2009 – Complaint [PDF].

Russell Wallace and Yourlocalmerchant.com were sued by competitor Egumball.com in 2009.  The complaint alleged violations of RICO, Trade Dress Infringement, False Advertising, Unfair Competition, Intentional Interference with Economic Relations, Fraud, and Unjust Enrichment.

Excerpts from the complaint:

  • “Defendant Russell Wallace is an individual who owns and operates…several unregistered fictitious business names and internet domain names…
  • “action arose out of an intentional scheme and a course of unfair and fraudulent business practices engaged in by defendants withthe purpose of illegally funneling business away from plaintiff’s internet search optimization business toward defendants’ similar business…”
  • “…copied plaintiff’s website in order to further confuse customers as to the identity and ownership of both plaintiffs’ and defendants’ businesses.”
  • “…as part of defendants’ ordinary business practice, defendants conducts “cold call” sales calls to customers and potential customers using telephone lines across state lines often employing “robo call” programs.

Vandersheirs v. 29 Prime, Inc., California, 2013 – Complaint [PDF]

29 Prime was sued for allegedly violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

Excerpt from Complaint:

  • “This action arises out of Defendant’s repeated violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, 47 U.S.C. § 227, et seq.”

Note: Both frontpageplacement.net and reliableplaces.com were down as of 6/17/13. Reliableplaces.com was up and viewable on 6/14/13.

Excerpts from the 29 Prime TCPA class action complaint

“Plaintiff brings this action for damages, and other legal and equitable remedies, resulting from the actions of Defendant in negligently, knowingly, and/or willfully placing calls to Plaintiff’s cellular telephone using an automatic telephone dialing system (“ATDS”) (i.e., “robocalls”) without his prior express consent in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, 47 U.S.C. § 227 et seq. (“TCPA”).

5.            Plaintiff is the primary user of the cellular telephone to which Defendant placed calls using an ATDS without his express consent and is a member of the class defined herein.

6.            Defendant, 29 Prime,, is a corporation organized under the laws of Nevada with its principal place of business at 9701 Jeronimo Road., Irvine, California, 92618  The nature of 29 Prime’s business is to place calls to telephones throughout the United States to solicit unsuspecting customers for search engine optimization services, making claims about their ability to improve Google rankings. Defendant has in the past and continues to operate under unincorporated alter egos with similar websites, such as “Reliable Places.” The company was founded in 2010 by Russell Wallace and Tony Redman.  The Defendant placed robocalls to Plaintiff and other class members in violation of the TCPA, as alleged herein.

15.          For example, Defendant robocalled Plaintiff on:

•             June 5, 2013, at 3:57 p.m., from (206) 397-1615

•             June 12, 2013 at 4:00 p.m. from (206) 397-1615

•             June 12, 2013 at 4:49 p.m. from (206) 397-1615

•             June 26, 2013 at 5:56 p.m. from (206) 397-1159

16.          On some of the calls that Plaintiff answered, he encountered a long period of silence, or “dead air,” and nothing else. This is typical of calls initiated using an ATDS:

Abandoned Calls. Predictive dialers initiate phone calls while telemarketers are talking to other consumers and these dialers frequently disconnect those calls when a telemarketer is unavailable to take the next call. In attempting to ‘‘predict’’ the average time it takes for a consumer to answer the phone and when a telemarketer will be free to take the next call, predictive dialers may either ‘‘hang-up’’ on consumers or keep the consumer on hold until connecting the call to a sales representative, resulting in what has been referred to as ‘‘dead air.’’ Dead-air calls are abandoned calls. (Federal Communications Commission, 47 CFR Part 64, [CG Docket No. 02–278; FCC 12–21] Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991)

17.          On the calls made to Plaintiff that were not dead air calls, Defendant used an artificial or prerecorded voice to introduce them.  The calls began with a generic, non-personalized sales pitches to Plaintiff. For example, the call from (206) 397-1159 that Plaintiff answered on June 26, was introduced by a recorded voice that said “You have not updated your free Google listing.”

18.          There are numerous entries on the Internet sites set up to collect and share complaints about obnoxious telemarketing calls. Examples of such entries about (206) 397-1615 include:

•             “Was another ilegal (sic) robo call. one of those google local search scams.”

•             “2-3 times daily the number 206-397-1615 calls my phone and either plays an automated telemarketing message or hangs up.”

•             “The usual illegal pre-recorded message for Google placement scam.”

•             “They are also driving me insane, to the point that I’m about to call the Better Business Bureau and complain about harassment. I get a minimum of 4 calls a week and want it to STOP.” (http://800notes.com/Phone.aspx/1-206-397-1615, last accessed 10/29/13)

19.          These and other comments are indicative of 29 Prime’s practices as an aggressive robocalling operation

21.          The numbers from which the above-described calls were made were from telephone numbers owned by or otherwise assigned to Defendant, or “spoofed” by Defendant.

22.          There have been many calls from Defendant to Plaintiff which caused his telephone to ring, but which he did not pick up, and thus do not appear on his call records.

V.            CLASS ACTION ALLEGATIONS

23.          This action satisfies the prerequisites for maintenance as a class action set forth in Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(a), as set forth below

Class Definition.  Plaintiff brings this action individually and on behalf of the following class of similarly situated persons (the “Class”), of which Plaintiff is a member:

All persons in the United States and its Territories to whom 29 Prime, Inc., or its affiliated companies or agents thereof made one or more non-emergency calls to cellular telephones used by them without their express consent.

VI.          CAUSES OF ACTION

COUNT I

(Violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, 47 U.S.C. § 227 et seq.)

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3 Comments

Filed under Boston News, Class Action Lawsuits

3 responses to “SEO Company 29 Prime Faces TCPA (Robocall) Class Action

  1. richard

    29 Prime Inc. Irvine Ca operates under many different names and uses
    dozens of different phone numbers to market their services. 29 Prime
    doesn’t attached the name 29 Prime to any of their mass marketing phone
    numbers but uses names like reliable places. 29 Prime has over 40
    so called “authorized sales associates” which mass market for 29 prime;
    lawyers for 29 prime argue that none of the phone numbers belong to
    29 prime, thereby 29 prime isn’t subject to the TCPA. In Charvat v. Echo
    Star the FCC said that calls made on behalf of a party make the party
    vicariously responsible, in other words 29 Prime is libel for all calls made on
    their behalf by a third party…The difficulty if connection of the phone numbers….Its expensive to subpoena each phone company for records???
    any suggestions ?? see Shupe v. 29 Prime Inc, Reliable Places, John Does
    AZ Superior Ct.

    • Just read this article and I find it hilarious especially because you your self where a client of theirs, so I find this not helpful but more as an angry client with time on their hands and just got ripped off. You as a lawyer should know better then to give your credit card to some one over the phone lmao. Suffer the consequences and the loss of your money.

  2. Pingback: Don’t Hire Crooked People | YatMedia

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