In what may well be the largest monetary forfeiture ever levied by the agency, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission has proposed that a Florida man pay a fine of $120 million for making almost 100 million robocalls.
According to a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture issued by the Commission in late June, Adrian Abramovich of Miami, FL allegedly organized 96 million separate spoof calls during a three-month period at the end of 2016. The calls, which reportedly showed the caller ID of a local phone number, were part of an effort to trick consumers to answering the calls and listening to unsolicited advertising messages for vacation packages. Such tactics are banned under the federal Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009, in which parties are prohibited from deliberately falsifying caller ID information to disguise their identity with the intent to harm or defraud consumers.
The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau was reportedly tipped off to the scam by the company TripAdvisor, which had reportedly received complaints from consumers claiming that the company had been robocalling them. The Commission also received complaints from medical paging provider Spok that the robocalling campaign was disrupting its pager network. The Enforcement Bureau’s subsequent investigation hand-verified over 80,000 separate calls made during the three-month period, and interviewed consumers who received the robocall calls without consent.
In justifying its proposed fine, the Commission cited the enormity of Abramovich’s robocalling activities, as well as the potential for harm they may have caused.
In addition to the Commission’s Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau has issued a citation against Abramovich for apparent violations of robocall limits under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) as well as federal wire fraud statutes.