Robocaller hit with $120M by FCC

13 May, 2018, 06:43 | Author: Arnold Perez
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"This is the largest illegal robocalling scheme that the FCC has investigated to date, and we are appropriately imposing a $120 million forfeiture in response".

The FCC said on Thursday that it was fining Adrian Abramovich of Miami $120 million for posing a threat to public safety with the "illegal" calls. He declined to answer some questions about his case, invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. "He actually caused harm", in conversation with CBS News. "Just ask his victims - a number of whom are elderly - who were duped into purchasing travel deals under false pretenses". "The Truth in Caller ID Act prohibits callers from deliberately falsifying caller ID information with the intent to harm or defraud consumers or unlawfully obtain something of value", the FCC said in a statement. "Mr Abramovich doesn't dispute that he was responsible for placing 96,758,223 robocalls during a three-month period in 2016", he said.

The calls used caller ID "spoofing" that mimicks the first six digits of the recipient's phone number, a practice dubbed "neighbor spoofing", the complaint added. Here a person is more likely to pick up the phone if the call appears to be coming from their local neighborhood.

The calls purported to be from well-known travel or hospitality companies like Marriott, Expedia, Hilton, and TripAdvisor, the FCC said.

Customers would be transferred to a call center with live operators offering to sell them one or more "discounted" vacation packages, such as timeshares.

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The practice of using brand names in the recorded pitch apparently turned around to bite the Florida robocaller, though.

Abramovich's methods were typical of most robocall schemes. The commission announced it was upholding its original proposed fine of $120m, in part due to feedback it got from the people impacted by the robocalling.

Abramovich's Senate testimony explained why.

Abramovich's robocalls only make up a small fraction of those regularly received by Americans; 3.4 billion were made in April, up 30 percent from previous year.

Those robocalls impacted other people and services, the FCC said.

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