A so-called robocall “kingpin” has now been fined $120 million by the Federal Communications Commission, in the biggest bust of its kind. How many calls did he make in order to attract their censure? A whopping 96 million.
Adrian Abramovich of Miami was caught using spoofed robocalls to sell people timeshares and vacation packages. According to the FCC’s documents, Abramovich impersonated companies like Expedia and TripAdvisor, trying to “trick unsuspecting consumers into answering and listening to his advertising message.” He’d make the calls appear to come from local numbers to increase the likelihood those he called would answered.
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According to a statement from the FCC made during the investigation last year:
…he violated the law by making unauthorized and disruptive prerecorded telemarketing calls—or robocalls—to critical emergency phone lines, wireless phones, and residential phone lines without prior express written consent and absent an emergency purpose.
If the fact that one person can apparently make that many calls, robotic or otherwise, doesn’t gall you a little bit, I direct you to the fact that he allegedly disrupted emergency phone lines. What timeshare would he think they wanted?
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement, “What Mr. Abramovich does have to say in his defense isn’t very convincing.” It’s not often I find myself in agreement with Pai, but for once we’re on the same page. Abramovich insisted he had no intent to harm or defraud anyone, while not denying that he made the calls in the first place.
Commissioner Michael O’Rielly, the only commissioner to give a statement that was even slightly dissenting, said he believed Abramovich didn’t have any intent to harm. But even he believed the FCC should impose the fine.
Still, Abramovich is hardly the only person out there with this kind of operation. As Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel eloquently pointed out in her statement, “I support it. But let’s be honest: Going after a single bad actor is like emptying the ocean with a teaspoon—and right now we’re all wet.”
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