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                                   Before the

                       Federal Communications Commission

                             Washington, D.C. 20554

                                          File No. EB-07-TC-502       
     In the Matter of                 )                               
                                          NAL/Acct. No. 200832170065  
     Sunstar Travel and Tours, Inc.   )                               
                                          FRN: 0017724774             

                                forfeiture order

   Adopted: September 16, 2010 Released: September 28, 2010

   By the Commission:

   I. introduction

    1. In this Forfeiture Order ("Order"), we issue a monetary forfeiture
       against Sunstar Travel and Tours, Inc. ("Sunstar") for willful and
       repeated violations of section 227 of the Communications Act of 1934,
       as amended ("Act") and the Commission's related rules and orders, by
       delivering at least 63 unsolicited advertisements to the telephone
       facsimile machines of at least 56 consumers. Because Sunstar has
       demonstrated an inability to pay the full forfeiture amount that we
       originally proposed, we have reduced the forfeiture being assessed
       herein to $50,000.

   II. background

    2. The facts and circumstances surrounding this case are set forth in the
       Commission's two Notices of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture and need
       not be reiterated at length.

    3. Section 227(b)(1)(C) of the Act makes it "unlawful for any person
       within the United States, or any person outside the United States if
       the recipient is within the United States . . . to use any telephone
       facsimile machine, computer, or other device to send, to a telephone
       facsimile machine, an unsolicited advertisement."  On May 17, 2008,
       the Enforcement Bureau ("Bureau") issued a citation to Sunstar,
       pursuant to section 503(b)(5) of the Act. The citation informed
       Sunstar that within 30 days of the date of the citation, it could
       either request an interview with Commission staff, or provide a
       written statement responding to the citation. Sunstar did not request
       an interview or otherwise respond to the citation.

    4. Following the issuance of the citation, the Commission received at
       least 56 complaints from consumers alleging that Sunstar faxed at
       least 63 unsolicited advertisements to them. These violations, which
       occurred after the date of the Bureau's citation, resulted in the
       issuance of two NALs  against Sunstar: one on May 28, 2008, in the
       amount of $169,500 ("NAL 1"), and another on August 26, 2008, in the
       amount of $136,000 ("NAL 2"), for a total of $305,500. The NALs
       ordered Sunstar, within thirty days, either to pay the proposed
       forfeiture amounts or submit evidence or arguments in response to the
       NALs  to show that no forfeiture should be imposed or that some lesser
       amount should be assessed. Sunstar did not respond to NAL 1 or pay the
       proposed forfeiture amount. Sunstar responded to NAL 2 by letter dated
       September 3, 2008, saying that it had not seen the complaints
       associated with the NALs. In addition, Sunstar claimed that it faxes
       to Canada and the United Kingdom, not the United States, and that a
       former agent had "been maliciously sending out faxes to try and damage
       and attack our company." Sunstar also said that the company was unable
       to pay the proposed forfeiture.

    5. In response, the Bureau sent Sunstar copies of the consumer complaints
       that were the subject of the Commission's NALs and allowed additional
       time for Sunstar to address those complaints. Sunstar responded in two
       further letters. Sunstar asserted generally that, while some
       complaints included copies of faxes, including faxes "that had our
       number on them and represented our company . . . these were only
       copies of a document that advertises our product and company. These
       are not the original documents." Sunstar also claimed that "[t]here
       are a couple of websites that have our name on the site and there are
       people out there who want to place the blame of every document on
       someone." In discussing individual complaints, Sunstar again claimed
       it did not send unsolicited faxes within the U.S., and suggested that
       complainants may not be "aware of every document that they have ever
       filled out and know who exactly our associates are that we obtain our
       information from."

   III. discussion

    6. Section 503(b) of the Act authorizes the Commission to assess a
       forfeiture for each violation of the Act or of any rule, regulation,
       or order issued by the Commission under the Act by a non-common
       carrier or other entity not specifically designated in section 503 of
       the Act. The maximum penalty for such a violation is $11,000 for a
       violation occurring before September 2, 2008, and $16,000 for a
       violation occurring on or after September 2, 2008. In exercising such
       authority, we are to take into account "the nature, circumstances,
       extent, and gravity of the violation and, with respect to the
       violator, the degree of culpability, any history of prior offenses,
       ability to pay, and such other matters as justice may require."

    7. The record in this case, as discussed in the NALs, includes numerous
       complaints based on faxes that list Sunstar telephone numbers and were
       sent during the period of June 2007 through October 2007. Complainants
       claim that they received unwanted and unsolicited faxes from Sunstar
       advertising vacations. Many of the complainants also attached copies
       of the unwanted faxes. These faxes are almost uniformly advertisements
       for vacation packages in Florida, the Bahamas, and Mexico. As the
       complaints allege, these faxes identify the sender as S-Star or SS
       Travel and Tours, and ask that the recipient respond by calling
       telephone numbers that our research reveals are assigned to Sunstar.
       Many of these faxes include headers that list the date and time the
       fax was sent and the recipients' phone numbers. These headers confirm
       that the faxes were sent to the telephone numbers listed in the
       complaints, and those telephones are within the United States. In
       addition, Sunstar acknowledges that it sends faxes advertising Florida
       vacation packages (including faxes similar to those attached to many
       of the complaints), and that it uses the telephone numbers and trade
       names identified in the complaints and listed on the example faxes. We
       have carefully reviewed the complaints and Sunstar's responses. It is
       not clear that Sunstar sent seven faxes associated with three
       complaints, because they advertise products other than vacations or do
       not include a Sunstar business name or telephone number. Otherwise,
       however, the remaining complaints present a prima facie case that
       Sunstar did violate the Act and our rules on numerous occasions.
       Sunstar nonetheless denies that it violated the Act and our orders,
       and raises several defenses.

    8. As an initial matter, we note that Sunstar has not submitted any
       documents or similar evidence in support of these defenses, such as
       transmission logs that could show that Sunstar had not in fact sent
       faxes to the complainants, or records of contacts from customers that
       could demonstrate an established business relationship (EBR). Sunstar
       relies solely on the unsupported, uncorroborated, and unsworn
       statements in its letters. We have, nonetheless, reviewed those
       defenses and discuss them below.

    9. Whether Sunstar exclusively faxes to Canada and the U.K. Although
       Sunstar claims in some of its letters that it faxes only to Canada and
       the U.K., at other times it says that "[w]e normally do not fax to the
       USA unless the document has been requested by the client in some way,
       shape, or form." It also explains that "[t]he only USA numbers that we
       have in any of our systems or any sales that we have had come from
       leads that were purchased from a couple different companies that do
       Box leads and internet leads. We also had many inquiries from our
       website as well." These statements clearly indicate that Sunstar did,
       in fact, send faxes within the United States, and lend support to the
       numerous U.S. complainants who say they received them. Sunstar does
       not demonstrate for any of the complaints how it in fact obtained the
       recipient's fax number, let alone that the number was communicated in
       the context of an EBR. Nor does Sunstar demonstrate that it took
       reasonable steps to verify that the recipient voluntarily agreed to
       make the number available for public distribution, as required by the
       Act and our rules. Consequently, we are unconvinced of Sunstar's
       argument that the company faxes exclusively to Canada and the U.K.,
       and we conclude based on the record evidence that Sunstar sent
       unsolicited facsimile advertisements to U.S. consumers.

   10. Whether some faxes were "sent maliciously by another competitor in an
       effort to destroy our company." Sunstar presents no evidence for this
       claim, which appears unlikely in view of the fact that the unwanted
       faxes promote Sunstar products and solicit calls to Sunstar telephone
       numbers. A specific individual that Sunstar seeks to implicate also
       seems unlikely to have sent the faxes at issue here. According to
       Sunstar, "an independent agent that was working under our license"
       left Sunstar on September 5, 2007 and then opened his own office
       sending faxes. Sunstar presents no supporting evidence of these
       claims. Even assuming Sunstar is correct, however, all of the
       complaints cited in the April 2008 NAL involved faxes sent during the
       period of June 2007 through August 2007, before the date that Sunstar
       says the independent agent left Sunstar. The faxes cited in the August
       2008 NAL were received after September 5, 2007, but represent a
       continuing flow of faxes similar to the earlier ones. We find no basis
       in the record for concluding that these faxes were sent by anyone
       other than Sunstar.

   11. Whether the complaints are based on "some documents that were on the
       internet that anyone can copy and send in." Sunstar does not identify
       any of these purported internet sites or any specific documents that
       were available on them at the time these complaints were filed. We
       therefore cannot conclude that Sunstar's assertion is anything more
       than speculation.

   12. Whether the person filing the complaint was unaware of requests for
       information from sources such as other family members or company
       employees. Sunstar appears to be suggesting that an EBR may have
       existed for many of the complainants, based on requests for
       information that complainants forgot, or requests that were made by
       others in their households or businesses. It is highly unlikely that
       so many complainants would be in this situation, and in any event, the
       Commission has made clear that the entity sending a fax ad is
       responsible for demonstrating the existence of the EBR, and must be
       prepared to provide clear and convincing evidence of permission to
       send faxes. Sunstar presents no evidence whatsoever of EBRs with, or
       consent from, any of the complainants, and therefore, we are not
       persuaded by this argument.

   13. Whether some of the faxes cited in the complaints could not have been
       from Sunstar because they differ from those Sunstar sends. Sunstar
       claims that complaints that state that there was no date of
       transmission or telephone number in the header are not from Sunstar,
       because Sunstar includes the date of transmission and its fax number
       in the headers of all documents that leave its offices. In other
       cases, Sunstar claims that the style and content of some of the faxes
       attached to the complaints do not match Sunstar's own faxes. Here
       again, Sunstar provides no evidence in support of these claims. In our
       review, as discussed above, we have removed those faxes from our
       consideration of the violations here. But the remaining complaints
       present a compelling case that the complained-of faxes were, in all
       other cases, sent by Sunstar. Further, the numerous complaints
       supported by numerous actual examples of faxes advertising Sunstar's
       vacation package business, and using Sunstar's business names and
       phone numbers, clearly outweigh Sunstar's unsupported denials.

   14. Inability to pay. Sunstar says it cannot afford to pay the total
       forfeiture of $305,500 proposed in the two NALs and provides its tax
       returns for 2005, 2006, and 2007. The Commission generally considers a
       companies' gross revenues as reasonable and appropriate yardsticks to
       determine their ability to pay assessed forfeitures. After considering
       the financial information submitted by Sunstar, we conclude that its
       gross revenues are sufficient to enable it to pay a $50,000
       forfeiture, and we hereby impose a total forfeiture of $50,000 for
       Sunstar's willful and repeated violations of section 227 of the Act
       and the Commission's related rules and orders, as set forth in the


   15. Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED, pursuant to section 503(b) of the
       Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. S: 503(b), and
       section 1.80(f)(4) of the Commission's rules, 47 C.F.R.S: 1.80(f)(4),
       that Sunstar IS LIABLE FOR A MONETARY FORFEITURE to the United States
       Government in the sum of $50,000 for willfully or repeatedly violating
       section 227(b)(1)(c) of the Communications Act, 47 U.S.C. S:
       227(b)(1)(c), section 64.1200(a)(3) of the Commission's rules, 47
       C.F.R. S: 64.1200(a)(3), and the related orders as described in the
       paragraphs above. Payment of the forfeiture shall be made in the
       manner provided for in section 1.80 of the Commission's rules within
       thirty (30) days of the release of this Order. If the forfeiture is
       not paid within the period specified, the case may be referred to the
       Department of Justice for collection pursuant to section 504(a) of the
       Act, 47 U.S.C. S: 504(a).

   16. Payment of the forfeiture must be made by check or similar instrument,
       payable to the order of the Federal Communications Commission. The
       payment must include the NAL/Account Number and FRN Number referenced
       above. Payment by check or money order may be mailed to Federal
       Communications Commission, P.O. Box 979088, St. Louis, MO 63197-9000.
       Payment by overnight mail may be sent to U.S. Bank - Government
       Lockbox #979088, SL-MO-C2-GL, 1005 Convention Plaza, St. Louis, MO
       63101. Payment by wire transfer may be made to ABA Number 021030004,
       receiving bank TREAS/NYC, and account number 27000001. For payment by
       credit card, an FCC Form 159 (Remittance Advice) must be submitted.
        When completing the FCC Form 159, enter the NAL/Account number in
       block number 23A (call sign/other ID), and enter the letters "FORF" in
       block number 24A (payment type code). Sunstar will also send
       electronic notification to on the date said
       payment is made. Requests for full payment under an installment plan
       should be sent to: Chief Financial Officer -- Financial Operations,
       445 12th Street, S.W., Room 1-A625, Washington, D.C.  20554.   Please
       contact the Financial Operations Group Help Desk at 1-877-480-3201 or
       Email: with any questions regarding payment

   17. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that a copy of the Forfeiture Order  shall be
       sent by First Class mail and certified mail return receipt requested
       to Sunstar Travel and Tours, Inc., Attention: Joseph Hanna, President,
       1123 E. Altamonte Dr., Altamonte Springs, FL 32701.


   Marlene H. Dortch


   As in the NAL, see supra note 4, giving rise to this Forfeiture Order,
   references herein to "Sunstar" refer not only to Sunstar Travel and Tours,
   Inc., but also to other names through which it does business, including SS
   Travel and Tours, S-Star Travel and Tour, Vacation Clearinghouse, Vacation
   Clearance Center, and Travel Clearance Center, as well as Joseph Hanna and
   all other principals and officers of any entity doing business by any of
   the listed names.

   47 U.S.C. S: 227.

   See 47 U.S.C. S: 503(b)(1). The Commission has the authority under this
   section of the Act to assess a forfeiture against any person who has
   "willfully or repeatedly failed to comply with any of the provisions of
   this Act or of any rule, regulation, or order issued by the Commission
   under this Act ...."; see also 47 U.S.C. S: 503(b)(5) (stating that the
   Commission has the authority under this section of the Act to assess a
   forfeiture penalty against any person who does not hold a license, permit,
   certificate, or other authorization issued by the Commission or an
   applicant for any of those listed instrumentalities so long as such person
   (A) is first issued a citation of the violation charged; (B) is given a
   reasonable opportunity for a personal interview with an official of the
   Commission, at the field office of the Commission nearest to the person's
   place of residence; and (C) subsequently engages in conduct of the type
   described in the citation).

   Sunstar Travel and Tours, Inc., Notice of Apparent Liability for
   Forfeiture, 23 FCC Rcd 8976  (2008) (proposed forfeiture of $169,500) (NAL
   1); Sunstar Travel and Tours, Inc., Notice of Apparent Liability for
   Forfeiture, 23 FCC Rcd 13193  (2008) (proposed forfeiture of $136,000)
   (NAL 2) (collectively "NALs").

   47 U.S.C. S: 227(b)(1)(C); see also 47 C.F.R. S: 64.1200(a)(3).

   Citation from Kurt A. Schroeder, Deputy Chief, Telecommunications
   Consumers Division, Enforcement Bureau, File No. EB-07-TC-502, issued to
   Sunstar on May 17, 2007.

   See 47 U.S.C. S: 503(b)(5) (authorizing the Commission to issue citations
   to persons who do not hold a license, permit, certificate, or other
   authorization issued by the Commission, or who are applicants for any of
   those listed instrumentalities, for violations of the Act or of the
   Commission's rules and orders).

   See supra note 4.

   Letter from Joseph Hanna, President, Sunstar, to Office of Secretary, FCC,
   File No. EB-07-TC-502, dated Sept. 3, 2008 (Sept. 2008 Response).

   Letter from Joseph Hanna, President, Sunstar to Office of Secretary, FCC,
   File No. EB-07-TC-502, dated October 24, 2008 (Oct. 2008 Response); Letter
   from Joseph Hanna, President, Sunstar, to Office of Secretary, FCC, File
   No. EB-07-TC-502, dated April 13, 2009 (Apr. 2009 Response).

   Oct. 2008 Response at 1; also Apr. 2009 Response at 1-2.

   Oct. 2008 Response at 1; also Apr. 2009 Response at 1.

   See, e.g., Oct. 2008 Response at 3 and passim; Apr. 2009 Response at 3 and

   Section 503(b)(2)(C) provides for forfeitures of up to $10,000 for each
   violation in cases not covered by subparagraph (A) or (B), which address
   forfeitures for violations by licensees and common carriers, among others.
   See 47 U.S.C. S: 503(b). In accordance with the inflation adjustment
   requirements contained in the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996,
   Pub. L. 104-134, Sec. 31001, 110 Stat. 1321, the Commission implemented an
   increase of the maximum statutory forfeiture under section 503(b)(2)(C)
   first to $11,000 and more recently to $16,000. See 47 C.F.R. S:1.80(b)(3);
   Amendment of Section 1.80 of the Commission's Rules and Adjustment of
   Forfeiture Maxima to Reflect Inflation, 15 FCC Rcd 18221 (2000)
   (forfeiture maximum for this type of violator set at $11,000); Amendment
   of Section 1.80(b) of the Commission's Rules and Adjustment of Forfeiture
   Maxima to Reflect Inflation, 19 FCC Rcd 10945 (2004) (amendment of section
   1.80(b) to reflect inflation left the forfeiture maximum for this type of
   violator at $11,000); Amendment of Section 1.80(b) of the Commission's
   Rules, Adjustment of Forfeiture Maxima to Reflect Inflation, 23 FCC Rcd
   9845 (2008) (amendment of section 1.80(b) to reflect inflation increased
   the forfeiture maximum for this type of violator to $16,000).

   47 U.S.C. S: 503(b)(2)(D); see also The Commission's Forfeiture Policy
   Statement and Amendment of Section 1.80 of the Rules to Incorporate the
   Forfeiture Guidelines, Report and Order, 12 FCC Rcd 17087, 17100-01 para.
   27 (1997) (Forfeiture Policy Statement), recon. denied, 15 FCC Rcd 303

   Sunstar also does business through these names. See supra note 1.

   In NAL 1, the fax attached to the complaint from Complainant Bergin does
   not appear to have been sent by Sunstar and the complaint from Complainant
   Taylor does not clearly identify Sunstar as the sender. See NAL 1
   Appendix. In NAL 2, none of the four faxes listed in the complaint by
   Complainant Groves are clearly linked to Sunstar, for example by the
   sender's name or telephone number. See NAL 2 Appendix.

   An "established business relationship" is defined as a prior or existing
   relationship formed by a voluntary two-way communication "with or without
   an exchange of consideration, on the basis of an inquiry, application,
   purchase or transaction by the business or residential subscriber
   regarding products or services offered by such person or entity, which
   relationship has not been previously terminated by either party." 47
   C.F.R. S: 64.1200(f)(5). See also 47 U.S.C. S: 227(a)(2).

   See, e.g., October Response at 3 and passim.

   September 2008 Response at 2.

   47 U.S.C. S: 227(b)(1)(C)(i), (ii); see also Rules and Regulations
   Implementing the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991, Junk Fax
   Prevention Act of 2005, Report and Order and Third Order on
   Reconsideration, 21 FCC Rcd 3787, 3795-96 P: 15 (2006) (Junk Fax
   Prevention Act R&O); modified on other grounds, 23 FCC Rcd 15059 (2008).

   Junk Fax Prevention Act R&O, 21 FCC Rcd 3787, 3793-95 P: 12 (2006).

   See, e.g., Alpha Ambulance, Inc,. 19 FCC Rcd 2547, 2548-49 P: 5 (2004);
   Long Distance Direct, Inc. 15 FCC Rcd 3297, 3305 (2000); PJB
   Communications of Virginia, Inc., 7 FCC Rcd 2088, 2089 P: 8 (1992); see
   also Forfeiture Policy Statement, 12 FCC Rcd at 17106-07 P: 43.

   See PJB Communications, 7 FCC Rcd at 2089 (forfeiture not deemed excessive
   where it represented approximately 2.02 percent of the violator's gross
   revenues); Local Long Distance, Inc., 16 FCC Rcd at 10025 (forfeiture not
   deemed excessive where it represented approximately 7.9 percent of the
   violator's gross revenues); Hoosier Broadcasting Corporation, 15 FCC Rcd
   8640, 8641 (Enf. Bur. 2002) (forfeiture not deemed excessive where it
   represented approximately 7.6 percent of the violator's gross revenues).
   In this case, the forfeiture represents a smaller percentage than in the
   Local Long Distance, Inc., and Hoosier Broadcasting Corp., cases, but a
   higher percentage than the forfeiture issued in PJB Communications of
   Virginia, Inc..

   (Continued from previous page)


   Federal Communications Commission FCC 10-166


   Federal Communications Commission FCC 10-166