Robocalles Fined $120 million for 100 million fraud calls

The Federal Communications Commission has imposed its largest fine ever of 120 million dollars against a Miami man who was found to have placed 96.8 million fraudulent robocalls for vacation deals.

The FCC initially levied the fine against Adrian Abramovich, doing business as Marketing Strategy Leaders, in June 2017 alleging his business used “neighborhood spoofing” technology to include local area codes and the first three numbers of the recipient’s own phone number to encourage people to answer robocalls.

The calls professed to offer vacation deals from major travel companies such as Expedia, Hilton, Marriott and TripAdvisor. But instead, those who answered where transferred to foreign call centers and sold travel packages at unrelated destinations, including timeshares in Mexico.

TripAdvisor, which doesn’t do telemarketing, helped the FCC in the investigation as it had many complaints about the robocalls.

During a Senate Commerce hearing last month, Abramovich denied being “the kingpin of robocalling that is alleged.”

Abramovich did not deny making the calls but has said he did not intend to mislead or defraud consumers.

Ajit Varadraj Pai

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is doing a victory lap after slapping a $120 million fine on Adrian Abramovic for his role in 97 million robocalls placed over a three-month period in 2016. It’s the biggest fine on record for the bothersome calls, but it’s also pure political posturing.

The number of calls Abramovic oversaw sounds impressive, until you learn that last month alone there were 3.36 billion robocalls placed. Using those numbers, the monthly calls from Abramovic constitute less than 3% of the total robocalls being made today.

On average, there are 1,297 robocalls placed per second in the United States. (“Pam, from account services” is apparently a very busy woman.) And the number has risen been on a sharp increase for the past few months. Total calls in December 2017 were just 2.78 billion, according to YouMail, which tracks robocalls.

Ajit Varadraj Pai is the first Indian American to be the Chairman of FCC.