The Federal Communications Commission has upheld a $120 million fine on an individual who made 100 million spoofed robocalls during a three-month period. It is the largest forfeiture ever assessed by the agency.
Said Ajit Pai, the FCC’s chairman: “Our decision sends a loud and clear message: this FCC is an active cop on the beat and will throw the book at anyone who violates our spoofing and robocall rules and harms consumers.”
The fine was originally announced last summer, but was appealed by the individual, Adrian Abramovich, who was accused of making spoofed robocalls as a means of trying to sell timeshares and other vacation packages.
Abramovich was accused of violating the Caller ID Act, which prohibits individuals from deliberately falsifying the caller ID information on their calls as a means of attempting to harm or defraud consumers. In this case, Abramovich engaged in what is known as “neighbor ID” spoofing, where the phone number that appeared on the caller ID screens of individuals was a local number, in an attempt to get more people to answer the phone. From the FCC:
The messages indicated that the calls came from well-known travel or hospitality companies such as Marriott, Expedia, Hilton, and TripAdvisor, and prompted consumers to “Press 1” to hear about “exclusive” vacation deals. Those who did were transferred to foreign call centers where live operators attempted to sell vacation packages—often involving timeshares—at destinations unrelated to the named travel or hospitality companies.
Abramovich argued that he did not try to defraud or harm anyone in making his calls.