A Salt Lake City-based telemarketing business which uses a Naperville call
center to solicit retailers and other merchants to persuade them to hire certain banks to process their debit and credit transactions has been hit
with a class action lawsuit from small business owners who allege they and a company whose marketing operations they purchased last year, “surreptitiously
recorded” phone conversations in which the business owners divulged financials and other “sensitive” information.
On Dec. 9, the plaintiffs, identified in the complaint as
California residents James Wang, Sat Narayan, Kaeran Sudmalis-Testi, Ihab
Ghannam, and Blanca Saenz, filed suit in Chicago federal court against International
Payment Services LLC, of Henderson, Nev., which does business as Elitepay
Global, and Ironwood Financial, of Salt Lake City, which does business as
They also sued the companies that allegedly hired the
marketing companies, including Wells Fargo, Fifth Third, First Data Corp.,
Vantiv Inc., and National Processing Company.
The lawsuit also named various individual defendants,
identified as Brian, Andrew and Adam Bentley, identified as owners of EPG; and Dewitt
Lovelace and John Lewis, who are identified in the complaint as owners of
The plaintiffs are represented in the action by the firm of
Myron M. Cherry & Associates, of Chicago.
The complaint centered on the alleged practices, allegedly
begun by EPG around 2011, of recording telemarketing conversations it conducted
with small business owners and others on behalf of Wells Fargo, Fifth Third and
others. That practice was allegedly continued after 2015 by Ironwood, which at
that time acquired EPG’s operations, including the company’s Naperville call
center, the complaint said.
According to the lawsuit, EPG and later Ironwood, acting as “Third
Party Agents” of banks and vendors, would contact business owners and others
who required so-called “merchant services” from banks and others who either
process credit and debit card transactions, or provide the equipment and software
that make such electronic commerce possible.
The lawsuit accused the marketers of using “caller ID
spoofing” and other tactics to allegedly mislead the business owners into
believing they were speaking with either a local customer or an existing
service provider, when the marketers were actually soliciting them to transfer
their debit and credit card transaction processing business to a new bank and
The lawsuit, however, said those calls and any subsequent
telephone conversations between the marketers and the business owners were all
recorded, without the knowledge or consent of the business owner or others
The lawsuit accused the banks and equipment and software
vendors of allegedly being aware of the telemarketers’ tactics and continuing
to contract with the marketers to find and land new customers.
The lawsuit alleged the practices violated California
privacy laws, as all of the plaintiffs were located in that state. However, the
plaintiffs argued they had standing to sue in Chicago federal court because a purportedly
large portion of EPG’s and - since 2015 - Ironwood’s telemarketing efforts have
originated at the call center in west suburban Naperville.
The complaint does not identify the businesses with which
the named plaintiffs are associated.
Nor does the complaint estimate how large the additional
class of plaintiffs in the action may be. However, in the lawsuit, plaintiffs said
they believe EPG and Ironwood have made “thousands of telemarketing calls to California
businesses every day.”
The lawsuit requests statutory damages of up to $5,000 per
violation, plus attorney fees.