On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission finalized its biggest fine for robocalling ever against Adrian Abramovich, who is from Florida and charged with making close to 100 million robocalls over just a 90-day period.
Abramovich, who during his Senate testimony claimed not to be the kingpin of robocalling as has been alleged, will now have to pay a fine of $120 million to the FCC or bring this dispute to federal court.
The second largest FCC fine, which was for $95 million, related to robocalling was charged in August of 2017 for the alleged making of one fifth the number of phone calls.
Abramovich, who used his right of the Fifth Amendment against incriminating himself during his testimony in front of the Senate, was unavailable to make a comment.
However, the FCC soundly rejected the legal response by Abramovich to the charges the FCC leveled against him, in which he claimed he did not obtain anything of value in a wrongful matter and did not mean harm to anyone.
The FCC countered by saying that Abramovich did not only intent to cause harm or defraud, he actually did.
Many of Abramovich’s victims were elderly who had been duped into buying travel deals through false pretenses, added the FCC.
This fine by the FCC is part of a broader effort of cracking down on robocalling, which has created over 4.5 million in complaints to federal regulators over the last few years.
The complaints leveled against Abramovich as well as his companies Market Leaders and Marketing Strategy Leaders, said the companies made over 96 million calls that were computer dialed during a three month span.
Those calls used a device that spoofs the caller ID and mimics the first six digits of the recipients own phone number, a practice known as neighbor spoofing.
The practice is not legal partly due to federal officials maintaining that the victims are much more likely to pick up the call if it appears to be within their own neighborhood.
Abramovich’s companies did not just spook the caller ID system in order to appear as a neighbor, the pitch in the called also was misleading to victims making them believe the call was made by a large hospitality company like Expedia, Marriott, Hilton or TripAdvisor.
Not until a victim responded to their offer of discounted trips through clicking on a digit of their phones did they actually become engaged with a live operator.
Federal regulators have been concerned for years with companies taking advantage of elderly with scams over the telephone.