In its largest Forfeiture Order ever, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has upheld a proposed $100 million plus fine against a Florida man and his companies for falsifying caller ID information to trick consumers (a practice also known as spoofing).
In a Forfeiture Order issued earlier this month, the FCC ordered Adrian Abramovich of Miami, FL to pay $120 million for violations of the Truth in Caller ID Act, which expressly forbids individuals and companies from deliberately falsifying caller ID information with the intent to harm or defraud customers or unlawfully obtain something of value. Through at least two different entities that he controlled, Abramovich reportedly made almost 100 million robocalls to consumers over a three-month period, offering for sale timeshares and other travel packages.
In each instance, the displayed caller ID indicated that the call originated from a well-known travel company, such as Marriott, Expedia, Hilton and Trip Advisor, which led unsuspecting consumers to answer the calls and ultimately subjecting themselves to sales pitches regarding travel packages unaffiliated with the brands initially identified by the caller ID.
The FCC’s Forfeiture Order followed an 18-month investigation by the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau into complaints about the calls that came directly from consumers, as well as from Trip Advisor, who was separately receiving complaints and conducting its own investigation. The Enforcement Bureau also received a complaint from medical paging provider Spōk, who notified the FCC that the robocalls were disrupting its network and interfering with hospital and physician communications. The Bureau’s investigation led to the issuance in June 2017 of a Notice of Apparent Liability in connection with the illegal calls.