The US Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a lawsuit Tuesday against five companies and three individuals responsible for hundreds of millions of robocalls in the US. The DOJ alleges that the companies have been warned that they were carrying out fraudulent robocalls but they continued, leading to financial losses for elderly and vulnerable Americans.
Two cases were filed. The first is against TollFreeDeals.com, sipretail.com, Nicholas Palumbo and Natasha Palumbo. The other is against Global Voicecom, Global Telecommunication Services, KAT Telecom and Jon Kahen; a temporary restraining order has been issued in this case.
The robocalls have been increasing in recent years and use lies to scare call recipients into paying large sums of money. Some of the most successful calls have been Social Security imposters, IRS imposters, and tech-support schemes.
The DOJ alleges that these companies used VoIP carriers, making calls using the internet and not phone lines, to make these calls. These companies served as the entry point to the US telecommunications system for foreign scammers, mostly from India. The complaint against TollFreeDeals.com alleges that they made 720 million calls in 23 days, 425 million of which lasted less than one second making them likely to be a robocall.
In 2019, the Federal Trade Commission had reports of 400,000 complaints of imposter fraud leading to losses of $152.9 million, a figure the DOJ says is underestimated as most of the fraud is not reported.
In early January, President Trump signed the Pallone-Thune Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act into law, authorizing the Federal Communications Commission to issue penalties for violating restrictions on automated calling.